Downtown IGA Manager: Employees And Customers Don’t Feel Safe Due To Church ‘Homeless Encampment’

At last week’s Great Falls Planning Advisory Board/Zoning Commission members voted unanimously to recommend the denial of a conditional use permit submitted by the First United Methodist Church to operate an outdoor emergency homeless shelter on their property in downtown Great Falls.

At the meeting several local owners and managers representing downtown businesses in the FUMC neighborhood provided public comment on the impact of the ‘encampment’ on their businesses.

E-City Beat will be publishing some of their comments and thoughts, directly quoted, starting today with Frank Headley, manager of the downtown IGA. The entirety of Mr. Headley’s public comments can seen here, his remarks start at 00:43:50 of the video.

“With my business being within walking distance I have seen an increase in theft, trespassing, fighting, and no respect to the neighbors or neighborhood around the general area.”

“I do believe that we do need a place like this in Great Falls but not on the property of the First Methodist Church.”

“As it evolved into a tent city rules were not set in place, the camp is not secure or safe, laws are being broken the occupants have disrupted the community.”

“From what I have witnessed in the last five months more occupants have moved into the property, it’s growing.”

“I’ve seen individuals from the camp urinating and defecating behind my building and in some instances on the building itself. I have witnessed one individual masturbating behind the building and with this another couple having sex on the street corner.”

“I’ve discussed this with Pastor Jeff and was asked not to call the police and deal with him directly, he doesn’t want a police presence on his property. it has been a daily occurrence to call 911 for the disturbances, theft, fighting. I’ve personally been spit on, punches have been thrown at me horrible name calling by some of the guests that stay on that property.”

“I do believe that a low barrier shelter is needed for Great Falls which should not be located in the heart downtown.”

“My employees is do not feel safe, our customers do not feel safe either.”

Posted by Philip M. Faccenda

Philip M. Faccenda is an AIA award-winning architect and planner. He is the Editor-in-Chief of E-City Beat.

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