Imperative To Find New Home For Anew Center

One potential site for the Salvation Army Anew Center was scuttled last year amidst a raft of rumors. It would be a shame if a new site in the town of Ellery is scuttled in the same fashion.

The case for moving the Anew Center from its current location hasn’t changed. The former Agnes Home was built in the 1860s and is not suitable for its purpose as a shelter for abuse victims and a home for non-residential domestic violence programs. The building is barely handicapped accessible, has far too little space to meet the needs asked of it and is in a neighborhood that has changed much in the 33 years since the Anew Center opened. It is getting harder and harder for Anew Center staff to meet the needs of victims in their current location and, eventually, the existing facility will stop passing state inspections.

After withdrawing their application in Jamestown, Salvation Army Advisory Board officials and Anew Center officials began looking for a new site. The Ellery location — whose address is being withheld for safety and legal reasons — is nearly the perfect size, is located away from a populated area and would allow the center to expand the number of beds in its residential program with the space necessary for confidential offices. The new location, unlike the Agnes Home, has the capabilities to implement a better security and camera system to make sure the center is secure. It is nearly a perfect location.

Anew Center officials are asking the Ellery Town Board to approve a zoning law change to allow for programs specific to a domestic violence shelter to be allowed in areas zoned B-2 within the town. There is opposition from some who say the shelter will cause property values to decrease and crime to increase. A particular fear is those in the midst of domestic incidents to come to the shelter and cause violence. Such fears aren’t backed up by statistics, and we note that police responses in Jamestown for the Anew Center’s location pale in comparison to many apartment buildings in Jamestown.

The Ellery Town Board must absolutely do its due diligence on the zoning change it is considering, but we hope fear-mongering and rumors don’t win the day. Every October there are walks, proclamations and events commemorating Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is a month full of support for domestic violence victims with ribbons, purple shirts and elected officials wax rhapsodic about the horrors of domestic violence and the courage of survivors. We think those survivors would much prefer more tangible support than well wishes and pretty words, such as a center that is safe, secure and suitable to help domestic violence victims put their lives back together. It is imperative to find a new home for the Anew Center. Domestic violence victims deserve no less.