Lewis said there have been no allegations of the construction being unsafe or of any of the required permits not being obtained.
But Carter said residents’ distaste for the Jacob’s Well project is more far-reaching than concerns over permitting.
Carter explained that when Jacob’s Well organizers originally came to the Utica Town Board, their plan was to house the residents in Floyd County and use the old Utica school as an educational center. But housing was never secured in Floyd County, so the plan changed for the group to move its entire operation to Utica, in addition to being more financially feasible for Jacob’s Well.
“There’s a lot of people upset about Jacob’s Well in Utica,” Carter said. “If they stuck to the original plan there would be no problems.”
“That’s really what started the whole ball rolling,” Carter said. “The people of Utica didn’t want people housed there.”
Frances Duley is one of those residents.
“The deed restriction says people can’t live in that building. As of right now that building still belongs to the township. That’s our school, we pay taxes on it,” Duley said.
Carter said there have also been concerns that estranged husbands or boyfriends of the women being housed at Jacob’s Well would cause disruptions in the community.
“At the end of the day it will be a halfway house,” Duley said. “We don’t want a halfway house in that building. When you have shelters you have to have protection. We feel like they have destroyed that building up there that doesn’t belong to them.”
Graham and Duley both said they were not against the mission of Jacob’s Well, but that the facility does not have a place in Utica. Graham pointed out that there is no public transportation to the site nor is there convenient access to stores and access to employment opportunities is limited.