I spoke with Ted Ericson of NJ Mentor who originally invited us to the small group meeting. The meeting is set up for Tuesday, Sept 25th, 7:30 PM at NJ Mentor offices in Mt. Laurel, unless someone has a better place. The meeting will have three representatives from NJ Mentor, two people from DCFS and around 12 people representing the neighborhood. I was informed that the DCFS commissioner will not be in attendance. However, I did request people from DCFS that can make agreements and stick by them. I plan on calling the Deputy Director, who also left a letter in my mailbox today. I want to see what she has in mind, whether she will be in attendance and whether she has the authority to represent the commissioner.
I would like to invite someone from the Mayor's office, if not the mayor himself since we will be asking for agreements between the State of New Jersey and the Township of Cherry Hill, not just our neighborhood. The mayor has agreed to help us with these agreements. For the remainder of the people at the meeting I would have myself, Maureen and Bob Gornowski and Alex and Lana Chechet, since they are direct next door neighbors. I also think that anyone within that 200 foot line that was notified of the home should also be invited as they have the most at stake. Jay Heine has been pretty vocal and can provide the safety issues for the neighborhood with authority, if he wishes to. Andy Behrend was interested as well as the Adams, Ingraveras and Sheppards. I know that a lot of people want to attend but we need to get real agreements and not have the mob scene like at the Township meeting. Let's try to keep the number to 12 - 16 if we can.
My purpose in working toward this meeting is to get agreements between the State and the Township governing clientelle, safety issues and how to handle property devaluation. We also want to make sure that the rest of the state has the opportunity to share in the great experience of having a group home come to their neighborhood. We think that group homes should be shared equally among all neighborhoods, not just in Cherry Hill where we already have twenty-five.
To that end I feel we need to get one more neighborhood meeting, to determine the group of people representing the neighborhood and to polish the presentation to NJ Mentor and the State. Please reply with ideas of where and when to have this meeting. Thanks for your patience while I was busy last week. We have a little time to get this all together for next Tuesday. Let's make the most of it.