The folly of Sheppard Pratt's designs in Ruxton

As a resident of Ruxton, I would gladly support Sheppard Pratt in having a residential rehabilitation group home for affluent clients with mental health issues in my neighborhood ("Discrimination in Ruxton," April 25). What is at issue is the site location of this near "luxury hotel" and the extreme likelihood that Sheppard Pratt patients paying $20,000-to-$30,000 a month will not tolerate the noise levels and extreme inconvenience of this site. The house is located no more than a couple of hundred feet from a supermarket and a shopping strip. It looks down on the rooftops of these commercial buildings with their refrigeration units, heating units and ventilation units. As with any supermarket, there are predawn food deliveries by 18-wheelers on a regular basis.

From personal experience I know that the noise level of the screened porch of the house that was torn down on this site was so high that it was difficult to carry on a normal conversation, let alone relax with a book or a newspaper. Over the past six months, there have been two other large houses in the neighborhood that had been on the market in Ruxton and which are closer to Sheppard Pratt. Either would have made a better investment and proven more relaxing and rehabilitative than the site chosen.

Visitors to the residents of this over-priced house, that I will call the Sheppard Pratt Folly, will probably find it more difficult to find a daytime parking space than it is to find a parking space in Canton at 9 p.m. The streets in this part of Ruxton were laid out in 1890 and were intended solely for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. This was a summertime community for people who did not own horses and carriages. The street in front of this house is less than 19 feet wide. The parking on this street is normally all taken by 6 or 7 a.m. There are no sidewalks. A teen-ager on a bicycle, who lived directly across the street from the site, was hit by a car and hospitalized a few years ago, as was a doctor on a bicycle, who lives 2 ½ blocks away.

I was once an adviser to the Jesuit Boys Home, which was similar to the group homes you mentioned in Woodlawn and Randallstown. Your statement that "Those facilities generally serve juvenile delinquents who have committed serious crimes…" is completely unfounded and untrue. If you would check with Juvenile Services you would find that they have never placed a juvenile who has committed a serious crime in a neighborhood community group home.

Moreover, these smaller group homes do not have a committed staff of servants of the number that we should expect at the Folly. In all other group homes the residents sweep their own floors, wash their own dishes, do their own laundry and clean their own toilets. I would suspect that the Folly will need a servile staff of 20 to 40 people per week, who will be low paid, unappreciated, and will turn over rapidly as they will have to have an automobile to drive to work and there will be no places to park. Moreover there will also be better paid psychiatric staff, nutritional instructors and their assistants, as well as general custodians, who will take the on-site parking spaces.

It comes as no surprise that Sheppard Pratt refuses to put in writing that they are willing to sell the Folly if it is unable to attract the type of patients that they anticipate. I expect that the Folly will soon be used for the rehabilitation of drug addicts. I would far prefer a juvenile group home, in which case we might anticipate petty theft from unlocked cars, but we would at least be able to park somewhere in the vicinity of our own homes.

Jack Reilly, Ruxton

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