Oct 1, 2008

Chapter 14, In Which The Author Becomes Embroiled in Neighborhood Politics

I received a call from my neighbor last night asking me to attend a meeting at a church very near our house.  She asked me if I had any concerns about the church, which was previously shared between a small Lutheran congregation and another small Baptist congregation, but now the Lutherans have pulled out and we have two groups of Baptists meeting there.

This is not the staid and sober Catholic church I am used to - there is loud preaching (can I get a witness? Can I get a witness??) with lots of singing and carrying on.  While I can hear them from my house, it's never really bothered me.  The only real aggravation I have had is parking (there is no parking lot, so the streets get a lot of parking and they sometimes block alleys, driveways, etc.) and decreased visibility at that intersection due to the parked cars.

My neighbor called to recruit me to come to a meeting neighborhood meeting at the church tonight. She is quite upset - she told me the noise is very disturbing (she is unable to take a nap because of the noise), the parking regularly blocks her driveway, they tried to grow grass after sidewalk repairs and the church-goers just trampled it even though it was roped off, and they litter.  When my neighbor asked them to not block her driveway/trample her grass/litter her lawn they told her to "fuck off" (not very Christian if that's all true).  To make matters worse, there was a noise complaint last weekend and when the police rolled up, they were apparently told by the preacher that we a simply an intolerant racist neighborhood.

This is shaping up to be a bad scene, I thought to myself...

I went to the meeting tonight to support my neighbor but made a point of keeping an open mind. I was a little skeptical because some of the arguements my neighbor used was that this is impacting our property values and emergency vehicles cannot access due to parking problems. These are text-book NIMBY arguments that I have heard a hundred times at work, so I plan to keep an open mind, meet some of the congregation and make up my own mind. 

Well, the meeting was held between members of the congregations and the neighborhood and it was actually a good dialogue.  My neighbor is very angry and I believe that she has been mistreated by some people at the church. However, it is also pretty clear that this has grown to a level where anything is unacceptable - the fact that she can hear people talking outside after services is an annoyance.

The congregation agreed to work on the liveability issues with the neighbors, which I appreciated, and they really listened (and heard) our concerns. I just hope that we the neighbors reciprocate with reasonable and realistic expectations.  

For what it's worth, I kind of liked the church people a little more than some of my neighbors (Shhhh - don't tell them I said that).

1 comment:

  1. I have mediated those sorts of disputes. I really wish people would sit down and talk to one another before the mud slingin and rumor mill starts. Can't we all be good neighbors?