El Centro downtown merchants reject halfway house project

El Centro downtown merchants say no to halfway house project

EL CENTRO, Calif. - Wendy Luevano is one of several El Centro downtown business owners concerned about a possible Main Street project.

“There’s a company that wants to put a halfway house with the worst of the worst being, i guess, to reform them, right on the corner of sixth and main. Do we want it here on main street? No,” Luevano said.

She said it will attract the wrong crowd and scare away business.

“Main Street will just get turned upside down if it comes in here,” Luevano said.

Lonnie Main, another downtown business owner, felt the same way.

“It’s just another nail in the coffin for downtown,” Main said.

There will be a public hearing over the issue at the next council meeting on May 2nd. Merchants will have a chance to speak their mind.

“The city seems to be trying to push in a halfway house for ex-cons that are being released,” Main said.

Most merchants are taking part in a signature drive to show their opposition to the project.

Nancy Gaston, bookkeeper, said, “Petition right on the desk over there, then anybody that comes in and buys something, anybody that comes in and visits us, we’re asking them if they would please sign. So far, the response has been good, but we just started.”

“We the business people are going to have to get together and find out why we’re the dumping ground for the city – for all of their problems,” Main said.

The merchants plan to meet the issue head on as a unified group. They said their livelihoods depend on it.

“It’s just bad all the way around. I don’t see good coming out of it at all,” Luevano said.

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