SMOC and Pleasantville* residents meet over proposed lodging house

Posted by Jeremy Shulkin

Last night executives from the South Middlesex Opportunity Council, district 4 city councilor Barbara Haller and residents of the Elm Park/Pleasant St./Ward 10 precinct 3 neighborhood met over a proposal that would see SMOC run a fourteen person, coed lodging house in a currently abandoned property on Cottage St.

The meeting, which took place at the Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center, served as an opportunity for area residents to pose questions and concerns they generated at a meeting the night before to the city and SMOC. For the most part, curiosity centered around the history of the tenants who will utilize the services of the rooming house, how much supervision they’ll have and whether or not SMOC could take charge of cleaning up the area around the Cottage St. house, which neighbors two empty lots on Fruit St.

The most pointed questions referred to the history of the area, with one asking how a house like this can be successful in a “ghetto,” especially when a similar Friendly House shelter failed in that same location before.

SMOC says no sex offenders or arsonists will be placed in the house, and neither will those with recent violent offenses. Curfews will be set at 11:00 on weeknights and at 12:00 on weekends, with those times applying to any visitors as well. One supervisor will be living in the house at all times, and during the day multiple case workers and SMOC employees will be there.

SMOC is expecting to receive the license from the City on February 17, with the first tenants moving in at the end of March or beginning of April.

After the meeting SMOC pointed out that this house isn’t being built because of the decommissioning of the PIP shelter, but the timing is coincidental.

*Mary Keefe of the Neighborhood Network Center and I tried to figure out what the name of the area around Cottage St. would be. It’s not really Piedmont, and it’s not Crown Hill. Elm Park doesn’t work either. She said Kevin Ksen did some research and way back when it was called Pleasantville, so I’m going with that.

At one point it was also referred to as the west side (as in the west side of Main St.), and Elm St. was a part of an area called Nob Hill.

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