WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) - The Salvation Army held a meeting Thursday to hear from neighbors about a potential move for a drug rehabilitation program into an empty school in Walker.
The Salvation Army has a purchase agreement with Kenowa Hills Public Schools to buy the Fairview Elementary School building, which would house the Turning Point outpatient drug rehab program currently in downtown Grand Rapids.
Neighbors packed the school Thursday night to voice their concerns about the possible move.
"When you are feening [craving], you're going to break into someone's home, you're going to look for the most valuable item, you’re going to pawn it and you're going to go get high. My house is down the street so that could be my home," said Laura Torres, who has children and lives across the street from the empty school.
The Salvation Army says there is an intense screening process before anyone is allowed into the program. Addicts are first screened by Network180 and then recommended to Turning Point. Turning Point would then also screen the individuals to make sure they were a good fir for the program.
Security was a big concern at the meeting. Neighbors are worried the people who would temporarily live at the facility would be allowed to come and go as they please.
"I don't think its beneficiary for it to be in a neighborhood. I wish that they would seek out a building that is in a business district so that there isn't children around if someone does proceed to break out," Torres said.
The Salvation Army said its facilities are secured and are meant to protect both the community and those in the program.
"We currently have security cameras. We have staff present 24/7. We also provide staff supervision for all activities, so it's not like people are coming in and out of the program or can come in and out as they please," Turning Point Executive Director Heather Greko said.
Still, neighbors said they don't want the program to move into the school.
"You're not welcome here. We don't want you here," Torres said.
After hearing the community's concerns, the Salvation Army said it will talk about whether it would like to move forward with its purchase agreement.
If it does, there are steps the City of Walker would also have to take. The land the school sits on is currently zoned for agriculture. That would have to be rezoned before Turning Point could move into the building.
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