To the Editor,
The proposed homeless shelter to take the place of the current soup kitchen on First Street is planned to be located on a prime piece of land beside the Partnership for Children building on Second Street. Given that so many of us are working to create a more dynamic and commercially thriving downtown, this is an issue that needs to be readdressed.
The problem with locating this kind of enterprise in a commercial center is that it will not bring much-needed commercial activity; by definition, the people who will visit it have no money to spend. Sites within the downtown area should be used for either commercial activities or as a means of drawing potential commercial customers, appealing especially to the highway traffic that we should be luring off the interstate. A homeless shelter will have the same effect attracting potential sales dollars as a storefront church does, that is, none.
There are other locations around Lumberton that are better suited to such a purpose and which could actually serve the homeless shelter patrons better. Situating it close to the Robeson County Church and Community Center, for instance, would make more sense than placing it in an area we hope to develop into a prosperous economic zone.
I wholly support the development and construction of this building, just not in this particular location. If it is built downtown it will have a negative effect on commerce as well as the value of properties we are seeking to improve. This in turn will affect the amount of tax revenue the downtown will generate. Let’s take another look at where it would make more sense to locate it.