Local News

Youth Home Proposal Unwelcome in Sanford Neighborhood

Posted March 18, 2008
Updated March 19, 2008

— Residents of a Sanford neighborhood say a proposed treatment center for troubled teens doesn't belong in their community.

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution opposing the project, but officials said the city may be powerless in this situation.

Hawkins Avenue looks very welcoming. Big front porches seem to say, "Come on up, sit awhile."

Not everyone is getting a welcome, however.

"There's a lot of senior citizens here that plan to retire, and there's been a lot of work here in this area to try to spruce the area up," resident David Glass said.

"It'll just devastate the neighborhood," resident Jimmy Stewart said.

“It” is the proposed Whispering Pines Treatment Center. It would house boys ages 10 to 17 who have behavioral problems. They would have round-the-clock supervision.

The plan has residents worried about their own safety nonetheless, and more than 200 signed a petition against the facility's proposed location.

"The people are fearful of the kind of kids being treated there," Stewart said.

"Not to mention that it'll really affect property values," Glass added.

In 2000, the city rezoned a one-acre lot to office, institutional and multi-family use. That was done to allow for townhouses that were never built, but the zoning is still in place.

Sanford City Manager Hal Hegwer says there's little the city can do to ground the youth-home project at that site.

"Even if it was rezoned, we feel that there's enough precedent set there that the facility could locate," Hegwer said.

Reached by phone, the man who will be the owner of Whispering Pines, Andrew Lipsey, described the site as a good fit. He said the center will not have any convicted felons or sex offenders, only adolescent boys with conduct disorders.

Lipsey said it will look like a residential daycare center with a wooden privacy fence.

Neighbors say they support the mission, but not putting it in their neighborhood.

"We're not against the facility, and I’ve heard no one else say they're against the facility – just that they're against the location,” Stewart said. “We feel like it doesn't belong in a residential neighborhood."

The state Department of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services would regulate the center.

Lipsey said that right now, Hawkins Avenue is the only site in Sanford that he’s considering.

“We want to give the site a proper chance,” Lipsey said. “We believe it will be good for the city and good for us.”


This story is closed for comments.

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  • missmarple Mar 20, 2008

    stephba, my heart does go out to these children. if you could see the location, maybe you would realize why it is not a good fit. the lot is small, the house would be right on top of elderly residents, with no buffer zone between them. how are these elderly people expected to enjoy their homes and feel safe. children need to feel safe but so do the elderly.

  • whatusay Mar 19, 2008

    I say let's build a topless bar next to this Youth Home. No difference.

  • whatusay Mar 19, 2008

    Stephba...so you are saying that even if some of these young adults commit future crimes on their "neighbors" it is worth having them in a senior neighborhood?

  • yruatwit Mar 19, 2008

    Of course it will be a good site. Mr. Andrew Lipsey will not have to live next to it.

  • stephba Mar 19, 2008

    I am sure the police mostly intimate - read intimidate

  • stephba Mar 19, 2008

    BTW, I am sorry I hijacked this comment section. I realize looking back that I spent too much time on my soapbox. I just wish you all knew my son, then your heart might soften just a bit. Good day.

  • stephba Mar 19, 2008

    anitov - I am sure the police mostly intimate the children and I doubt that any arrests are often made for stepping out of the yard. That doesnt diminish the real or perceived control that these people take over these children. And again, I am sure there are 'bad apples' but a lot of what these children are reacting to is their abuse as children and their continued abuse at the hands of the system. Frankly, if I were a teen living in the situations I have seen I might well break into someone's home HOPING to get arrested so I can at least get three hot meals a day and not have to worry about being homeless once I turn 18 and the state drops me off at a homeless shelter.

  • stephba Mar 19, 2008

    dlb800 - I agree with allowing people to arm themselves, but I doubt that it will be necessary in this instance (though anything is possible). But it would also be nice if these same people who would gladly shoot someone would also be willing to call the police the next time they see a child getting beaten or hear their screams. It would be much easier to stop the abusers than to shoot their victims later on.

  • stephba Mar 19, 2008

    missmarple- again if you do not have first hand knowledge of these 'labels' that are put on these children, it is doubtful that you understand how these behaviors are defined and by who they are defined. I will not share my sons story in public here but suffice it to say that he had ALL the WORST labels and then some. Almost all of them are untrue. Gross exaggerations made by counselors who have since been fired for misconduct with clients, or group home staff who would rather say a child is combative than admit that they hit the child first. How about a parent who says their child is 'uncontrollable' and blacks out only to find out that 'blacks out' really means she beat him till he blacked out. Those labels mean nothing to me since I know they are often not true or HIGHLY exaggerated. I am glad my husband and I judged for ourselves and didnt let other people tell us our son was a monster!

  • stephba Mar 19, 2008

    Catwoman1 - Sorry to hear that you experienced such exposure to abused children who were probably doing the only things that they were taught by their parents. And I have said that MOST of the children are victims. I am well aware that there are some 'troubled' children but you were correct in saying that they had poor supervision. But why then is it not the workers being fired or sent to live next to murderers and rapists than these children? Most, again I say most, are in these situations through no fault of their own.
    I also disagree that parents only have to be caring to be able to manage some behavior problems. Love and care can not heal everything unfortunately. A parent that has tried EVERYTHING without success doesnt care less than one who has succeded in parenting. Also, this may be semantics, but your child HAS ADHD and BP, like my husband HAS diabetes but he is not 'a diabetic' he is a person. Anyway, too bad the children were blamed again for adults' actions.