Photo: Getty Images
We all know the "NIMBY" mentality: not in my backyard. In other words, we don’t care what goes on as long as it doesn’t affect us. While it's not a great mentality to have, most of us are NIMBYs to some extent. I’m one, you probably are too. Why? Because we pick the neighborhoods we move to for very specific reasons: parks, schools, access to highways and shopping (or the opposite) and when that’s threatened, we react. It’s normal and it’s okay. Animals don’t like their turf being challenged and we humans aren’t too fond of it either. We also don’t like being told that being resistant to change makes us selfish, elitist or adverse to diversity. It ain’t necessarily so.
What is suspect though, is when we resist the addition of a certain group or sector of people, rather than super-sized stores or highways. And in one Twin Cities suburb in Minnesota, the NIMBY attitude is apparent in an enclave called Stonemill Farms, where resistance abounds against the addition of a nursing facility for people suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. The facility would not be built, rather it would move in to a vacant strip mall near the affluent neighborhood. There are the usual worries about traffic, car parking and the like but one of the main reasons some of the residents of Stonemill Farms don’t want a nursing facility there is the opinion that the residents may be a danger to their children. They may do something crazy while at a park where children play, perhaps. Or, as some community members have said, memory impaired residents could roam the streets at night, not knowing what they are doing, committing crimes (unknowingly or purposefully) and generally being a menace to society. The proposed facility is near an elementary school and day care center.
Stonemill Farms has about 600 homes and about 50 people signed a petition to halt the plans for a nursing facility. Now while that seems a small number, it’s really not, if the objectors are not coming from the same household. What seems most unusual is the impression people seem to have of the elderly with dementia. Hanging out in parks and walking the streets? Seriously?