TROY — Family Abuse Shelter of Miami County officials state they will continue their fundraising efforts to raise $2.8 million to build a new facility and proceed with plans to demolish the 1830s church next door to its Franklin Street shelter.
The shelter owns the former Trinity Episcopal Church, now known as The Barbel Adkins Education and Activity Center at 22 E. Franklin St. The building serves as the shelter’s meeting space for women’s support groups and storage next door to the Franklin House, according to Barb Holman, the organization’s director.
Holman said according to the organization’s experts, the church building’s structure is failing. It is the intention of the shelter to preserve and restore the leaded stained-glass windows and use other pieces in the new facility to house women and children in a new “Sanctuary” space.
“Right now we are starting our fundraising efforts,” Holman said.
The shelter would have to apply for a demolition permit to be filed with the city of Troy and then reviewed by the Troy Planning Commission. The Planning Commission would first vote to hold a public meeting. Holman said the shelter is preparing the application at this time and will present it to the city in the coming weeks.
Holman said the organization is in the final stages of design with its proposed new facility to add bed space for the shelter’s homeless and abused women and children consumers.
“Our intention is to incorporate the most (from the church) we can. Our design and vision is to be very respectful to the neighborhood so it blends in. We want to find a healthy way to incorporate the old with the new,” Holman said.
Last week, Holman and board member Ruth Jenkins and Barbara Lefevre, discussed how the shelter is out of bed space for domestic violence and homeless women and children it serves in the county.
Lefevre said the new facility will aesthetically compliment the Franklin House and the neighborhood.
Holman shared how in times of high demand, air mattresses and couches were filled with those seeking help from the shelter, with some temporary beds placed on the floor of her office.
“We could never shelter people in (the church building),” Holman said, noting it is not structurally sound to pass inspection to house people. “Our experts are saying the walls are bowing and need to be braced. Their (historical society) experts are saying there are really no problems. That’s where we really differ.”
Jenkins said if the shelter did invest in the building, “it isn’t appropriate for our need.”
The board also notes the aging population it is serving needs handicapped accessible bathrooms and discussed the need to address other accessibility issues.
“We need a better way, with older people and the aging. We need to separate the domestic violence people from the homeless people because they have different levels of crisis,” Jenkins said.
The shelter’s number show an increase in domestic violence children have increased from 71 in 2016 to 94 in 2017. The shelter’s numbers are steady with 782 clients served in 2016 and 745 in 2017.
“What has worked for us 20 years ago, isn’t really working now because our community has grown, our services have grown — our facility hasn’t grown,” Holman said.
Holman said the organization became aware of the church’s condition when it began exploring ways to expand their services. Shelter officials were then alerted to the deterioration of the structure, including a sagging roof, aging electric, deteriorating brick and mortar and other issues.
“That building is beyond our capabilities. We also have a real, growing human need,” Holman said. “While people may not like it, I hope they try to understand where we are coming from and be respectful of what we are doing and be understanding of it.”
Holman notes the restoration work at the 121 building on the Public Square and the Buckeye House to shelter people in the last few years.
Holman also said the shelter’s population is best served in the area with close proximity to local food pantries and meal services, the police station and other social services.
“We do understand that there are going to be some people not happy with our decision and we respect their right to do that,” Holman said. “We also think we have to stay focused on our mission and our needs and we do feel that when you look at our reports, we have done our due diligence.”
Holman said they are looking into having a historical piece that people can view the history of the location and have found a historian in Columbus to help with that project.
UNITY FOR TRINITY
Under the name “Unity for Trinity,” the Troy Historical Society and its members are continuing its efforts to collect signatures to drum up support to save the Gothic Revival-style structure. The building has ties to the Underground Railroad and the Miami and Erie Canal. William Henry Harrison gave a speech dedicating the canal at the church in July 1837 prior to Harrison becoming a U.S. president for one month in 1841.
The Unity for Trinity committee issued this statement in regards to the Family Abuse Shelter’s plans to move forward to demolish the church building and build its $2.8 million facility in its place:
“The Unity for Trinity committee has made a good faith effort to reach out to the Family Abuse Shelter officials and find a solution (to give) the non-profit shelter the space it needs while preserving one of Troy’s most historic buildings. To date, we have seen no indication that the Family Abuse Shelter has given careful consideration to alternatives. Many other local non-profits, among them Partners in Hope, the Miami County Recovery Council and the St. Patrick’s Soup Kitchen, have relocated as their programs have expanded. Family Abuse Shelter officials have seemed to inexplicably opposed to considering alternative sites despite the concerns shared by neighbors, local historical groups and the downtown Troy community. Shelter officials stand to gain very little space by demolishing a fundamentally sound church that is among the city’s most historic buildings and that the shelter continues to use. Demolishing this very important building would reflect poorly on our city and detract from historic downtown Troy. It’s time that the Family Abuse Shelter’s leadership gets serious about collaborating with others in the community to reach a solution and address valid concerns that have been raised about their planned expansion.”
The group has an online petition through Change.org and has a Facebook group under “Unity for Trinity.”
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