Mannix About Manatee: Turning Points, One Stop Center vital agency

March 16, 2014 

The Bil Galvano One Stop Center serves the homeless population at a site across from McKechnie Field at 701 17th Ave. W.JAMES A. JONES JR./Bradenton Herald

The next time Adele Erozer sees Bradenton City Council members Bemis Smith or Gene Gallo inside Turning Points at the Bill Galvano One Stop Center will be the first time.

That goes for Gene Brown, too.

They'd be most welcome, Erozer said, to see what really goes on there.

Their colleagues, Harold Byrd and Pat Roff, have been there, however, and are personally familiar with the nonprofit on 17th Avenue West that offers help and hope to the down-and-out.

Which is why the Turning Points executive director is vexed by the council's 5-0 vote to convey its misgivings about changes there.

"De facto expansion," one council member de

scribed it.

Improvement is more like it.

Turning Points bought the warehouse next door for storage and is converting its old storage space inside Turning Points into more dental units and medical rooms.

This is a plan that has been in the works since Turning Points was renamed in January 2013 from Community Coalition on Homelessness.

It would enable an organization that has developed under Erozer and her staff to continue providing service to the homeless and needy, a difficult job not wanted by many.

Now it's a "hot button" issue?

It makes you wonder whether there's another agenda here.

More then eight years ago, a divided city council grappled with the ongoing problem of homelessness and vagrancy along 14th Street West near Our Daily Bread and the Salvation Army shelter, a dilemma that had Tamiami Trail merchants and nearby residents up in arms.

Subsequently, in December 2005 it voted 3-2 -- Gallo and Smith voted no -- to relocate the soup kitchen to its present location, now shared by Turning Points, at a former furniture store.

That, in turn, upset merchants along 17th Avenue West.

What's more, it was constructed amidst an area that city leaders had envisioned years ago for redevelopment as an entertainment district. The remodeled McKechnie Field is its centerpiece and the anticipated opening of Darwin Brewing Co. is a welcome addition.

Perhaps there will be others.

Where does that leave Turning Points and the Bill Galvano One Stop Center?

It's a vital link in the community's handling of homelessness.

Staffed by Manatee Memorial Hospital and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, its upgraded clinic would provide better medical care and decrease emergency room visits. That would reduce the burden on hospitals, not to mention on Manatee County's indigent care fund.

The nonprofit is doing what it was intended to do and doing it admirably.

The city council can't have it both ways.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Call Vin at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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