Fourth Ward Alderman Ray Ambrose has issued an apology to Timothy's House of Hope, but is standing firm in his desire to protect the Washington Street neighborhood that the ministry has recently joined.
Ambrose made his apology during Wednesday's Davenport City Council meeting that saw residents and businesses owners share their experience on how the ministry's food service had impacted the neighborhood.
"I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to Pastor (Jim) Swope and the good people that Timothy's House of Hope," Ambrose said. "I've been informed that they received bad counsel regarding the zoning when they purchased the property on Washington Street. It's very unfortunate because going through the proper zoning process could have avoided many of the problems and anger that is happening now."
Ambrose's apology came after receiving criticism from the community as well as fellow members of the City Council about remarks about the homeless and the outreach performed by Timothy's House of Hope in the 4th Ward.
Timothy's House of Hope, which is a ministry within Compassion Church, recently moved from 1407 W. 4th St. to 1602 Washington St.
The city of Davenport issued a cease and desist order after finding that its food service did not fit with the acceptable uses permitted on the C-2, General Commercial District, zoned property.
However, it is currently exploring an amendment to its zoning ordinance that will prevent future issues like this from happening again.
While Ambrose issued his apology, which Pastor Nick Cantwell accepted, he also said he thought the church had done its due diligence and stood firm in his belief about the negative impact on the community.
"I don't hate the homeless, but when people are urinating on your building and sleeping in front of your building and on your park benches that you've built to beautify your neighborhood, you don't get the warm and fuzzy feeling when you're dealing with it," Ambrose said.
Business owners Rick Piatt, Steve Stoltenberg, James Gross and Karen Elfman-Gross testified to their observations as well as the negative impact on an area that's tried to improve its image.
"We've got a bar that doesn't want to work with the people and I don't think we need anyone else that doesn't want to work with people on Washington Street," Stoltenberg said.
Ambrose also stood firm on the contents of a letter, printed on the Office of the Davenport City Council stationary, that he circulated to residents and businesses in the area.
"If we look at this in a holistic way, I'm sure we can do better, but we can't allow outsiders to bring their social reform ideas into our great neighborhoods and willfully and recklessly frighten and destroy the good people who live, work and pray in these neighborhoods," Ambrose wrote.
Aldermen Kyle Gripp, at large, and Jeff Justin, 6th Ward, said that the views expressed in the letter were not that of the Council.
Cantwell said he wanted to work together to find a solution, but also mentioned that the Washington Street cameras were in place before the ministry moved in.
While many of the residents and businesses from the 4th Ward supported Ambrose, business owner Sam Edge said his initial views changed and agreed the problems were there before the ministry moved in.
"When I really thought about it and actually talked to them and found out what they were going to do, it just wasn't for the homeless and they weren't just going to bring a bunch of homeless people onto our street," Edge said. "They were there for our neighborhood. They were there for 10 days open, and I didn't even know it."