Dona Juranek, who lives on the same block of Madge Avenue as a proposed group home for teenagers to live in while they go to school, is concerned.
"They come from violent, at risk homes," she said. "It's scary for the people who live right next to it."
Boys Hope Girls Hope St. Louis affiliate Executive Director Brian Hipps said the proposed home is far from the general perception of a non-profit group home for teens from disadvantaged backgrounds. He said they screen out any student with a criminal history.
“Our kids are hand-picked for their scholarship. They apply for it and we select them based on their academic ability, their positive behavior and the environmental factors that are obstacles to their development of their full potential,” Hipp said.
He said the students, ages 10 – 18, are screened for their motivation to obtain a college degree and to become a model citizen. He said the kids are there voluntarily with the full support of their parents/guardians.
“They do community service, they achieve academically, are engaged in leadership roles in their schools, or they leave the program,” he said.
He said some would likely go to Brentwood schools, but about half attend private schools such as Vianney, DeSmet, Nerinx and St. Elizabeth.
Hipp said a small office, a learning center, a home for 10 boys and a home for 10 girls is planned. He said 8815 Madge isn’t large enough alone, so they have alternative plans that includes the lot to the west, a rental house.
There would be sufficient room for parking on the property for day-to-day needs. He said they would not park on Madge Avenue.
Only the residents closest to the property were invited to an informational meeting Monday 7 - 8:30 p.m. at St. Mary Magdalen.
“We want to help people to understand who we are,” Hipp said. “All we’re asking is that the neighbors, as many as possible, come to the meeting and share their concerns and let us respond so that they can make up their minds about us based on who we really are, and not what one might fear.”
He said approval would need to go through Brentwood Planning and Zoning and the Board of Aldermen, which would include public comment.
City Administrator Bola Akande said the property is zoned Planned Development, which requires that the Planning and Zoning Commission review the proposal and a recommendation be forwarded to the Board of Aldermen for them to take action.
She said the group has not submitted a formal application to the City.