Lynn Parents Push Back Against Plans for Sober Home Near Elementary School

Parents of kids at St. Mary's Early Education and Elementary School in Lynn, Massachusetts, are voicing their objections to a planned Chelsea's House recovery facility in the convent building at St. Mary's of Sacred Heart Parish

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Plans for a sober living home in Lynn, Massachusetts, are being met with opposition from parents of students at a nearby elementary school.

The convent building at St. Mary of the Sacred Heart Parish is in the works of becoming a recovery facility, being sold to Chelsea's House. Parents are concerned by the proximity to St. Mary's Early Education and Elementary School.



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Colleen Soule is the parent of an elementary school student in the fourth grade. She says

"We just feel betrayed," said Colleen Soule, a parent of a fourth-grader.

Soule says parents were not given a lot of information up front.

"For so many months to go by, to be uninformed, it's now forced us against a wall with very little decisions to make," she said.

Eileen Kidney is the grandparent to a student.

"I understand the need for the sober home, and appreciate the work they do, but I worry about my 5-year-old granddaughter," she said.

"I think it's not safe for the kids," said Devine Sojah, father of a student.

Lynn City Council President Jay Walsh says concerns from parents prompted the council to vote Tuesday to send a letter asking the Archdiocese of Boston to delay the building's sale until more questions are answered.

"There's no commitment from Chelsea's House or the archdiocese to make sure the controls are in place," Walsh said. "There's nothing in writing."

Parents received a letter last month announcing the sale to Chelsea's House, which runs several recovery centers, saying the building will be made into housing for more than two dozen women. The school says that mission is consistent with that of the church.

"The services are dire," Soule said. "We get that. Not something we want to normalize in an elementary school sharing a schoolyard with preschoolers."

In a statement, the head of St. Mary's says the school had no involvement in the sale.

"We understand the concerns expressed by parents and assure them we are doing everything in our power to continue to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment," the statement read.

"Currently the school and Church are both working to anticipate and address parents' concerns and thus the conversations with Chelsea House regarding those concerns," the Archdiocese of Boston said in a statement. "The parish and school are established members in the community (since the 1800s) and take seriously their responsibility to be good and responsible citizens."

Parents say they expect another meeting to be held with Chelsea's House and the archdiocese represented. However, they say no date has been set so far.

Chelsea's House declined to comment on the situation at this time.

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