Letters to the Editor 2019

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To the Editor:

I would like to add my thoughts to a recent letter submitted by Sam Kelly regarding the homeless situation in Cape May County. My focus, in particular, is Rio Grande.  

I spent the first 25 years of my life in Rio Grande. When I go there today, I can scarcely believe I am in the same country, let alone the town, that I grew up in! 

As are many, I am well aware of the abundance of homeless individuals there and the so-called "homeless community" that exists in the woodlands around Rio Grande. The very fact that we have come to the point of a "homeless community" in this nation is an abomination and is repugnant to the very ideals of decency and moral obligation to our fellow man. 

I believe, and it is my opinion, that the governing bodies who so readily ignore this issue are, in fact, to blame for this problem.  

When I was a child growing up, Rio Grande was a small, quaint farming community. There was a school for kindergarten through third grade, a few small general stores, the shopping center east of Route 9, as well as the housing area known as Marlyn Manor. A railroad divided the town.  

West of the tracks was predominately farms. Two commuter trains left town in the early morning and freight came in. The same two trains returned in the evening and the freight left town.  

Life was quiet and simple and almost everyone knew everyone else. There was a genuine sense of community. People helped each other when someone was in need.  

Two years ago, when my wife was battling cancer, a couple of people brought meals to my home from time to time. My daughter was stunned by this! I told her that when I was a child, this was normal. People took care of one another! 

Today so much has changed. Sadly, not for the good of the community. The government has allowed the growth and development that has pushed Rio Grande to the point of disaster.  

Large shopping centers and government offices, etc., have forced prices through the roof, forcing the "little guy" out of existence. Local politicians touted the benefits of all this development while ignoring the obvious results. They took a quiet, simple community and turned it into a shopping/professional mecca, surrounded by what is rapidly becoming a ghetto!  

Yes, I believe our elected officials are 100% responsible for the homeless crisis that exists in this area. They brought development and big business to the area, and in so doing, made living there unaffordable for those who grew up here.  

Unfortunately, progress such as this always comes at a great cost. That cost almost always includes a community of homeless individuals!  

Their reasons for homelessness are as many as their numbers. Many are homeless through no fault of their own. Some because of addictions or criminal pasts that force them out of the mainstream of life. In any event, their homelessness is a tragedy that could have been avoided.  

Overdevelopment and greed are major factors that contribute to problems such as homelessness. Our elected officials helped in creating this issue, but none will accept responsibility for it by addressing the issue and working toward a solution.  

It is easier for them to pretend it doesn't exist. It is easier to present a picture that all this development and big business is the best thing to happen in this town.  

Amazingly, I grew up in that town and there was no homeless community until all this development arrived courtesy of Middle Township Committee. 

  

-BERTRAM HALBRUNER 

Woodbine 

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