LAKEVIEW — Pink signs posted in a Lakeview park have people on both sides of a proposed recovery residence recoiling from their "idiotic" declarations.
The signs warn that if Rockford-based Rosecrance gets its way, drug addicts and people with criminal records or mental disorders could be sitting in the park soon.
Residences on the top three floors of 3701 N. Ashland Ave. would house 20 to 30 young adults for one month to 1½ years after in-patient treatment at another facility. The first floor — which does not require a zoning change — would be an outpatient treatment center.
While feelings remain mixed over the proposed Rosecrance residence and outpatient center, both Rosecrance and the opposing Lakeview Action Committee slammed the signs.
"We're horribly disappointed and dismayed at the content. We're absolutely encouraging people to take them down and dispose of them," committee member Bridget Lohrius told DNAinfo.
The committee also denounced the signs on its Facebook page last week.
"These signs were not created, posted or endorsed by Lakeview Action Committee. And these signs were, in our opinion, idiotic and beyond ignorant," organizers wrote.
All - it has come to our attention that certain individuals may be trying to associate the Lakeview Action Committee...Posted by Lakeview Action Committee on Wednesday, August 26, 2015
The signs don't tell the full story, said Chris Yadron, Rosecrance director of Chicago recovery services.
"Those signs could just as easily say, 'A veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan and is in recovery from substance abuse could be sitting here' or 'A survivor of breast cancer and a mother of two,'" Yadron told DNAinfo. "They're a misrepresentation of the whole individual."
Rosecrance officials have not met with the public since the tense July 20 meeting, but are soon rolling out community listening sessions for those nearest the project.
Ten invitation-only sessions Sept. 8-16 will create "more of a dialogue and understanding" and provide suggestions for Rosecrance's good neighbor agreement with the alderman's office, Yadron said.
"Let's be honest, people are just yelling [at large meetings]. People want answers, and that's fine. But part of the goal is to provide a forum that feels more collaborative," he said.
Rosecrance spent the past month fine-tuning a plan of operation that will address neighbors' concerns over public safety, loitering, smoking and parking. Yadron also hopes to promote the 13,000 hours of community service provided each year through Rosecrance's five current residences.
"There's this accusation that if you haven't operated a recovery residence in an urban environment, you don't have the experience needed to operate. But it has everything to do with the operator and not the location," Yadron said.
As for a promised community input committee, Rosecrance said it has selected three Lakeview residents who "expressed interest in that process" and is now waiting to hear back from Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and the Southport Neighbors Association, which are each bringing three members of their own choosing to the group.
Unlike the erroneously attributed signs, the Lakeview Action Committee largely focuses on operational concerns rather than the clients — the rotation of short-term residents, increased traffic and loitering, decreasing property values and public safety.
"The essence of our opposition has been frankly that Rosecrance isn't qualified to run a facility like this in an urban setting. When we ask specifically about plans and preparedness, we get vague promises to look into it, or they haven't responded at all," Lohrius said.
The committee has arranged small group meetings with Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), who has chosen to remain neutral on the issue ahead of an Oct. 16 zoning hearing. Any proposed recovery residence must obtain a special use permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
"We've got a lot of energy and momentum," Lohrius said. "People are getting engaged."
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