Binghamton Panel Delays OK of Proposed First Ward Warming Center
Business owners and residents are fighting plans to open a warming station in Binghamton.
The Addiction Center of Broome County is seeking permission to set up the facility in a First Ward building it recently acquired.
The 40-bed warming station would be located in the basement of a three-story brick building at 15 Charles Street. The property was acquired by the agency last November for $1,250,000.
The Binghamton planning commission Tuesday evening heard from supporters and opponents of the proposed project.
After a lengthy public hearing, the panel tabled a measure to approve a special use permit for the warming center.
Officials and employees with the Addiction Center said there is a tremendous need for such a facility in Binghamton to assist people who have no place to stay overnight during cold weather. The warming unit would be open from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Nearby residents and representatives of some First Ward businesses expressed concern about locating the center in the building just off Clinton Street.
Jason Kovarik owns Kovarik True Value Hardware, which is located about three blocks west of the proposed facility. He said a petition opposing the plan is being circulated.
The petition states the Addiction Center has conducted no outreach to residents and businesses "that could be impacted by an influx of homeless persons into the First Ward." The petition also cites security issues and concerns about the criteria governing who would be allowed to use the warming facility.
Kovarik said those opposed to the Charles Street proposal don't disagree with the agency's mission. He told WNBF News "we don't want this to become a hub for the homeless" of the region "to hang out when it's cold."
The planning commission may schedule a special meeting for later this month to vote on the project.
Carmela Pirich, the Addiction Center executive director, said she's "eager to get a decision so we can make plans" to establish the facility before winter.
The agency is planning to use the 63,000-square-foot Charles Street building to consolidate most of its other local operations.