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LifeSpan’s Burnsville and Shoreview facilities are in commercial areas. In Golden Valley, where the program has signed a purchase agreement for a building at 345 Pennsylvania Av. S., there are houses nearby.
LifeSpan’s clients receive academic support, counseling and therapy from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays. The program has nine adults for every 24 kids. Hackmann told the Golden Valley City Council that the students are never alone.
State law requires a peace or health officer to sign off if someone is in crisis and needs a 72-hour “emergency hold” at a hospital or treatment center. To reduce demand on Golden Valley police, LifeSpan agreed to have a health officer on site. City staff members told the council that the other LifeSpan locations get 13 to 16 police calls each year.
But a citizen held up papers that he said showed 86 complaints over two years from LifeSpan’s Shoreview facility to Ramsey County, which supplies police coverage to the city. They included calls for “narcotics,” suicide attempts and disorderly conduct. That alarmed some council members, prompting City Manager Tom Burt to remind the council that it needs to make a decision based on fact, not emotion. Call sheets can contain errors, he said.
LifeSpan’s application fits the zoning for the area, Burt said, and if the council rejects it, the city needs noise measurements, property analysis and police data that validate the cited concerns about increased traffic, deflated property values and safety.
Have ‘more informed decision’
Several council members said they would welcome LifeSpan to the city if it went to a nonresidential neighborhood.
Some residents at last week’s meeting spoke in favor of LifeSpan, and Harris said more supporters have contacted City Council members. The council could vote the proposal up or down or table it, opening the door for a dialogue about the plan with neighbors.
“I hope we can have some neighborhood meetings and work through this,” Harris said. “We need as many facts as possible … and we can have a more informed decision.”
In her e-mail, Hackmann said that in 20 years, LifeSpan has had no incidents where a child presented a danger to someone outside its buildings.
“Our priority is to locate in a community that is welcoming and understanding,” she said.
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