Editorial: St. Matthew's House ... Don't dismiss openness in changing Bonita sites

Who can blame St. Matthew’s House for wanting to avoid a repeat of the controversy surrounding its ultimately canceled plans to expand to an old lumber yard in Bonita Springs? The organization figured its track record of service in East Naples should have counted as a good-will builder.

Still, the homeless-shelter organization says it is dedicated to its mission and will be looking for alternate sites in Bonita Springs.

We do hope, however, that the organization thinks twice about the approach outlined by Bonita Springs Mayor Ben Nelson.

Nelson tells our reporter that when St. Matthew’s does find a new place to try to serve the disadvantaged, the organization will keep it as much of a secret as possible — perhaps at a site where the zoning is in place and city approval is more assured.

One problem.

That is not the way to avoid controversy.

That is a way to invite it.

St. Matthew’s officials earn high marks for the way they handled this past effort. It was the substance of their message that met with public skepticism.

For now, St. Matthew’s is saying little. CEO Vann Ellison, who was calm and composed during public discussion marred by reports of threats against him, says: “While I’m certain the answer that we backed out of Causeway for economic reasons leaves a great deal of room for speculation, I can’t help it. There are many factors to consider when looking at the economics of a business transaction and it would be unwise to describe any of those in a public forum.

“We plan to explore our options and certainly we have nothing to report until there is a clear direction. At this point we are looking at potential sites and can’t clarify anything until we are sure of where we will go. We are more convinced than ever of the need in south Lee County.”

When Ellison and others at St. Matthew’s House move forward, we do hope they will go public sooner rather than later.

Transparency tends to be the better way to go.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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