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Residents want teen shelter shut down after man's killing

Neighors claim Crescent House for boys bringing crime to Fort Lauderdale neighborhood

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – There is a push in Fort Lauderdale to shut down a shelter for troubled teens after years of complaints about break-ins, vandalism and drugs. The push also comes after a man who lived near the area was killed.

Neighbors told Local 10 News crime specialist John Turchin that Robert Regan was trying to clean up the neighborhood and was killed for his activism.

At first glance, the shelter appears to be a clean and pleasant environment, but residents said it's anything but.

"We just want it removed. We're done," resident Jim Everson said.

Everson is just one of many residents who have repeatedly complained about Crescent House, which is a state-owned and managed shelter for boys who are 12 to 17 years old. Many of the boys have been abandoned and neglected.

The teens have been accused of a wave of criminal activity in the neighborhood, including breaking into homes, vandalizing property, harassing residents and dealing and using drugs.

"They've taken over the community and pretty much kept this area hostage," another resident, Sal Gatanio, said.

City records appear to support their case. From January 2014 to June 2015, kids from Crescent House on Northwest Seventh Avenue were arrested 138 times for 74 felonies and 64 misdemeanors. Between December 2014 and this past June, there were 384 calls for police to respond to the property.

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"I don't buy a lot of it," Residential Services Director Kristin Stablein said. "Do we have kids that occasionally misbehave? Yes. I have adolescents, and so we do have some kids that get into trouble. But I think that the numbers are blown out of proportion."

Stablein insists the numbers and the accusations are exaggerated and can't imagine the city shutting down the house.

"It would be devastating for placements of the kids that are here," Stablein said. "There's a lack of placements already for adolescents. It would be a crisis. Where would the kids go?"

That's a question that city commissioners will certainly have to deal with first thing Thursday morning when they meet at City Hall. A special magistrate will listen to arguments on both sides.

Nearby residents maintain that the Crescent House is in the wrong area, is not properly zoned and is considered a nuisance.

Follow John Turchin on Twitter @johnturchin

Follow Local 10 News on Twitter @WPLGLocal10


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