12-step program in Gastonia raises safety concerns for neighbors

Neighbors tell Channel 9 several incidents have left them concerned for their safety after a 12-step program moved into a Gastonia neighborhood.

Substance abuse advocates say the program is changing lives.

Neighbors told Channel 9′s Ken Lemon they are not opposed to helping people in need, but they just question if the program needs to be right there.

One family showed Lemon cellphone video of a man on the ground in front of the Gaston 12 Step Service Club on Third Avenue. There appears to be a bottle of alcohol beside him.

ALSO READ: New coworking space opens in downtown Gastonia

“You OK?” the person recording says, then, “I’m going to get you some help.”

Friends of the program say they are helping people. Neighbors say that help comes at a cost for them.

“I’m all about everyone getting help,” one neighbor said.

She said the situation there is getting out of hand.

“It’s a big problem,” she said.

Her husband is who recorded the cellphone video. She said earlier this month, a patron of the service club pulled a machete on him.

“And put it in my husband’s face,” she said.

ALSO READ: Gastonia Baseball Club enters first season without name

The man with the machete was arrested.

The neighbor who spoke with Lemon said she has a petition from 60 neighbors claiming the program has caused everything from noise disturbances to security risks to. Another neighbor wrote that someone aggressively forced his presence on her daughter and opened her front door.

Neighbors say the program moved in last August. Police said in the two years before that, they had seven calls for service there. In the last five months, they got eight calls.

“We don’t have any sense of safety in our neighborhood,” the neighbor told Lemon.

She said people just want the operators to patrol their guests or move, but she feels like those requests are being ignored.

“Now, we are trying to expedite the process of buying a home because we don’t want to be here anymore,” she told Lemon.

The operator of the program told Lemon he feels like the problem starts with just a couple of people in the neighborhood. He said he feels like some of the situations have been contorted, and emphasized that he is helping people and changing lives through the program.

(WATCH BELOW: City passes law to stop people experiencing homelessness from being unloaded at shelters)