Local Im-PACT on Johnson Street?

By: Mike Mueller
By: Mike Mueller

The Valley Community Service Board is looking to relocate one of its programs.

The lease is almost up at the Staunton Post Office, for CSB's Program for Assertive Community Treatment, or PACT. PACT provides clinical services to people with severe mental illness.

CSB is requesting a special use permit to move the program to the former daycare center on Johnson Street and eventually provide 10 apartment units for its clients.

Local residents are stressing their concerns, which should be a hot topic at this Thursday's city council meeting.

"This is a small residential neighborhood and it would be the wrong thing to do," says local resident Neal Crenshaw. "I think it would hurt the neighborhood more than build it."

Crenshaw has been living up on Johnson Street Hill for more than 30 years. Lately, he's been concerned about a possible new neighbor, CSB's PACT program.

"It's really not against the patient," says Crenshaw. "It's just that to build a facility that big and house people like that, it's just not a good neighborhood to do it in."

PACT provides clinical service to people with severe mental illness. CSB wants to move it's office to an old Johnson Street daycare center and host affordable apartment units for it's clients.

"People that we serve are already in the community and residential placement, safe residential placement is a big factor in their recovery," says VCSB Executive Director Jeff Thomas.

But residents raise issues with traffic concerns and public safety.

"You are having people with mental problems wondering around and are going to be unsupervised on the weekends and that kind of makes it tough because you have kids playing up and down the street," says Crenshaw.

CSB is looking into overnight staffing and says traffic would be minimal. Their big concern is just finding a place to go which the planning commission is not recommending there.

"It is still a transitional neighborhood and staff felt like this was not the time or place for this particular activity," says Staunton's Director of Planning Sharon Angle.

"To have a safe home and an affordable home is a key factor in your life and this is what we are trying to provide to our consumers," stresses Thomas.

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