NIMBYism is at play

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To the Editor: 

The following letter was also sent to the superintendent and school committee.

I’m writing about the recent decision by the MVRHS School Committee to rescind their decision about allowing MVCS to allow a homeless shelter at their campus over the winter. As you know, the motion was approved early in November with a 6-3 vote. A little over a week later, that vote was rescinded. The reasoning behind that is questionable at best. 

Committee member Kris O’Brien stated it had been “brought to my attention” that there were “issues” which needed to be considered. It turns out that O’Brien had reached out to the Oak Bluffs Police to inquire about any problems. Chief Searle told her there were eight calls in 10 weeks to the OBPD. The calls to police were about intoxication, medical responses, and mental illness. I ask, Is using the barometer of the number of ambulance and police calls to an area a criteria for offering shelter? Furthermore, I ask why this fishing expedition occurred at all. Surely there are places on this Island with more numerous emergency calls.

I offer that a combined total of eight calls in 10 weeks isn’t a startling figure. If you read the police log alone during the summer, then a vote to close down Circuit Ave. in Oak Bluffs might be before voters. I write that facetiously, but in all seriousness, the shelter would be open when students are not in school. Others, not the high school, are responsible for the oversight of day-to-day operations. The suggested space is used only for storage the rest of the time. No one is endangered. Seems to me there is more question to be made for the Sharks playing baseball all summer with people climbing over the stands, baseballs being hit, and beer being served. 

This whole argument against helping homeless people for the winter is weak, and can easily be understood as discriminatory. Claiming to the newspaper that one wants to help solve the issue of homelessness, then pulling the rug out from under that as winter starts, is disingenuous at best. People who are homeless need and deserve our community to help them. Accepting the opinion of a police officer from another town who happens to be an Oak Bluffs selectperson is a red flag to what might be going on here. NIMBYism … not in my back yard … is at play. Discrimination and prejudice are abhorrent in every form. Having it coming from the committee in charge of overseeing the education of our young people is egregious. Do the right thing … don’t deny the homeless some shelter during the coldest months of the year. 

Susan Desmarais
Oak Bluffs