"Steals Home" in Onamia
"Nobody wants to live by us," said Nexus CEO James D'Angelo about the Mille
Lacs Academy, a juvenile sex offender treatment facility which is forcing
itself on neighbors in Bradbury Township.
was one of the few things he said which I actually believed during my
lengthy telephone conversation with the smooth-talking head of Nexus, a
multi-million dollar nonprofit organization which is bullying it's way into
a neighborhood where indeed nobody wants to live by them.
will be neighbors," D'Angelo said, stressing that no matter how
strongly individual property owners oppose the forced occupation by this sex
offender facility, they have absolutely no control, no say about what
is coming into this residential area. Or who....
the Good of the Community?"
does the good of the community supersede an individual's (or 20
individuals') rights to Life,
Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? When there is an agenda to be met and money to be made. Jim D'Angelo says, "We will leave a very small footprint on the land." Yet, on
the other hand, he proclaims with enthusiasm that this project will be the
largest in the history of Onamia. So which will it be? Small footprint? Or
largest project? If someone has tiny feet but wears oversized shoes, it is
the size of the shoes which will leave a huge footprint.
"for the good of the community" argument falls short when one considers that
this institution doesn't have to be built in it's currently planned
location. There are more appropriate sites in the area. What it amounts to
is: disregarding the lives of certain citizens - not for the good of the
community, but for the good of one commercial enterprise, i.e. ruining
people's lives to benefit a single business.. It's all about money. Nexus
could certainly build in a different location - one which would not affect
any local residents, but chooses not to because it would be more expensive.
With a yearly budget of $38 million dollars, Nexus could afford to pay for
the added cost. Instead, it chooses to save money and sacrifice people
unnecessarily - neighbors who are part of the community. People who, at
least until recently, believed they were part of the community...
Goes the Neighborhood
"We've been a good neighbor for many years," D'Angelo says.
"Well, what are we? Chopped liver?"
responds one of the Bradbury residents. "Most of us folks in the
neighborhood have been here for far more years than Nexus. We were born
here, grew up here, went to school here, worked here, fell in love here, got
married here, built our homes here, raised our families here, and buried our
loved ones here. We are neighbors who spent our money here, bought our
groceries here, paid our taxes here... and we have been good neighbors here.
Real neighbors... We live here. Jim D'Angelo lives in Golden Valley. He is not our neighbor."
When I asked James
D'Angelo why people don't want to live next to his sex offender treatment
facilities (he runs four of them), he said, "Oh, you know. The traffic, the
noise.... the boys." He said he likes the 38 acres site because of the
neighborhood's peace and quiet. It is very private.
"But it's our
privacy," exclaims an exasperated property owner whose land sits adjacent to
the proposed Nexus complex - which is planning to construct several
buildings, including: a school, a recreation hall, several dormitories, an
administration building, a gymnasium, and more. Outdoor recreational areas,
such as ball fields are also part of the plan. Not to mention new roads,
driveways, parking lots, street lights, etc. etc. These private
citizens (private in the literal sense), have no desire to forfeit that
privacy. Like everyone else not wanting to live next to this juvenile sex
offender facility, they don't want the traffic, the noise, or 94 boys. They
want their privacy protected. But there is no one who will support them. In
fact, all of the town leaders and many of the Onamian citizens stand firmly
against the people who are protesting the relocation of the Mille Lacs
Academy to their neighborhood.
"We will continue
to fight 'til the end, and then some," said J.J. Swift, a well-known
musician, composer, and owner of Tundradogs Music Publishing. A thirty-year
resident, Swift has been one of the most out-spoken in the opposition to
Nexus and the Onamia city officials. She has composed most of her music from
her farm in Bradbury Township, including a six movement symphonic suite
which was inspired by the beauty, nature, and wildlife in the area. "I wrote
'Heart in the Forest' here," Swift said. "The piece includes
movements such as 'Deer in the Meadow', 'The Pines', 'The
Bradbury Brook'... all inspired by the area where I live. What am I
going to write now? 'Perverts in the Parking Lot'?"
Swift, like other
local residents, is upset that such a small group of people - a seller, a
mayor, four city councilmen, and a corporate CEO can destroy an entire
neighborhood on a whim. "What is happening here is un-American," she
said. "We aren't going to roll over and play dead for these people. There
are principles at stake."