2017-11-15 / Front Page

Resident fears homeless shelter may ruin tourism

by Trish Rudder

Bath resident Peggy Miller told the town council on November 7 that town churches are planning to provide shelter for the homeless with 10 to 12 beds at participating churches on a rotating basis.

She said Charleston built a 60-bed homeless facility and now has a “flood” of homeless people there. She said she was told that the homeless are panhandling and businesses are complaining and the homeless have overloaded the town.

“There are hundreds of homeless there now,” Miller said.

Someone attending the meeting claimed that Berkeley

Springs has three homeless people, but Miller said that if a 12-bed shelter is available, she feared that more homeless people would come to Berkeley Springs.

She said “they hang out at the park. I don’t think we can afford tourism and the homeless in the Town of Bath. The Town of Bath is a tourist town, and we can’t have both.”

She said that Berkeley Springs is the best place she ever lived. “I want to keep it that way.”

Miller was concerned that “no one has been told of the proposal” including the parents of kids that attend programs at the churches.

She said shelters from December to March would be open to keep the homeless out of the cold.

“What happens to the other months? Social workers, caretakers, police and others will be needed to take care of them, she said.

“It’s a sad situation, but I don’t feel as badly for them as what will happen to the town,” Miller said at the end of her statement.

“That’s very Christianly,” someone in the audience said.

Mayor Scott Merki said his father was a Methodist minister.

“I know these people need help, but we have to talk to our attorney to see what we could do.”

Councilman Chris Chapman suggested the people “who are spearheading this need to come to us, so we need to hear from them.”

“We need to talk with the churches,” Merki said.

“People will go homeless so someone will take them in. They don’t have to pay rent,” an audience member said.

The rotating shelters in Berkeley Springs are the First United Methodist Church, Berkeley Baptist Church, Trinity-Asbury United Methodist Church, and St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church. The United Methodist Church in Hancock, Md. is also a rotating shelter.

Merki said he and Ordinance committee chair Susan Webster will do some research and will meet with the coalition.

The Homeless Coalition is scheduled to meet with the town council on November 21.

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I would make an "educated

I would make an "educated guess" that close to 30% of Berkeley Spring's entire population is within one or two paychecks (or welfare payments) of being homeless, themselves. They might do well to think twice before disparaging those who have already met that unfortunate fate!

How true.

How true.