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Potsdam group home proposal tabled

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POTSDAM — The village Planning Board on Thursday night tabled approval of a proposed group home on Market Street.

New Hope Transformation House Ministries, formed by members of New Hope Community Church, plans a 10- to 12-bed home at 88 Market St. for women leaving drug rehabilitation without a place to go. It would provide job placement and recovery assistance in a drug-free, Christian environment, the church says. With the needed permits, construction could begin next spring.

Approximately 20 people attended a more than hourlong public hearing Thursday night, with about a half-dozen speaking in favor of the project and an equal number opposed. Neighbors’ concerns about the residents of the group home and potential drainage problems at the site were enough for the board to table the vote until its next meeting.

Board member Theodore Prahl encouraged New Hope members in the meantime to go door to door and better explain the project to neighbors on Market and Garden streets.

“There’s a great deal of worry and opposition in the neighborhood,” Mr. Prahl said. “I think it would be very necessary for you to meet with these people and quell their fears or move on.”

Carolyn M. White, formerly director of the chemical dependency unit at Canton-Potsdam Hospital, is spearheading the effort. She said the home is designed to address deeply rooted problems causing addiction and also to offer services such as financial counseling.

Staff will be present 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the women who go will choose to be in the faith-based environment, she said. “No women can be ‘sent’ here,” she said. “It’s not like it’s an alternative to incarceration.”

Men’s group homes in Canton and Madrid have not created any problems in their neighborhoods, Ms. White said. A women’s home would fill a void in the area.

“When we care for the least of our brethren, we care for all of us,” Ms. White said.

But neighbors like Elizabeth List said the project does not belong on Market Street.

“Are we residents to sacrifice the last few positive small town qualities in our neighborhood for the sake of a group of problematic women who need to walk downtown?” she asked.

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