I don’t know what Huntersville was like in the days when a smaller number called the rural surroundings home.  Newcomers like me moved here unaware that the original name was Craighead who came here to start a Presbyterian Mission at the edges of what was then the frontier in the late 1700’s.  Today, Huntersville remains a beautiful place and we’ve all come to see some of the good the growth brought, though we might not admit it publicly.

Not too long ago, a hospital was built at the intersection at exit 23 of I-77.  Not all saw it as good, but today it is expanding as the need for health services in our area, including mental health, expands. Recently, a proposal came from another hospital to provide for such mental care, but on Monday night that request was denied by town commissioners.

There are a lot of reasons why local governments deny rezoning requests.  But listening to the rhetoric surrounding this psychiatric hospital, it seems we are in danger of losing some of our sense of community and community responsibility. When you’re a small town you know your neighbors and you learn to live and work and worship together. When you’re a small community you know those among you who are vulnerable and others know of your vulnerabilities too. The good citizens learn to look after each other, provide for others, and even abide with people who may not have the same aches, pains, diseases, or stubbed toes as you do you.

Again, we don’t know the mind of our leaders when they cast their decisions. We pray for them, give input, and respect their decision. But hopefully, maybe just maybe, they realized we need the hospital, but it just wasn’t in the right place. Maybe we’ve all had our awareness increased about mental illness in our town, and maybe, our town, though large, will come together as neighbors to provide a plan for the well-being of all citizens.

When towns grow so does the standard of living, but the quality of life can suffer. Huntersville grew quickly and it’s time to look at new issues of quality of life for all. How will we provide for the quality of mental health care for the town we love?

– Rev. Allan Purtill, Huntersville