VALLEY BROOK — Residents of this small Oklahoma City suburb best-known for its strip clubs and recent scandals are upset that convicted sex offenders are being allowed to hang around two local businesses in town.
During the last meeting of the town's Board of Trustees, a petition signed by more 150 Valley Brook residents was submitted to elected officials, detailing their concerns.
Town Trustee Lewis Nieman said residents are upset that Joe's Addiction — a coffee shop — and Free Store Boutique — a thrift store — are routinely admitting sex offenders from the nearby Hand Up Ministries trailer park.
On its website, Hand Up Ministries describes itself as “faith-based prison aftercare program for men and women that have just been released from prison.”
It's been widely publicized in recent months that convicted sex offenders are allowed to live in the trailer park, which is just across the street from Valley Brook.
“A lot of people are concerned about it,” Nieman said. “We've only got about 400 adults in town, so having more than 150 people sign the petition is a pretty good amount.”
The petition, started by Valley Brook resident Bobby Burgess, is seeking help from the town's Board of Trustees.
Burgess, who has four small children, said the sex offenders and other homeless people who hang around Valley Brook are gaining in numbers.
“I'm tired of them being a nuisance, hanging around the neighborhood,” he said. “They don't just hang around the coffee shop ... they hang around the creek that runs through here; they're always asking people for money and walking up and down the street at all hours of the day.”
Burgess said Valley Brook is home to many children, and he believes it's just a matter of time before something happens.
“Look, they may not all be sex offenders, but sex offenders are known to live over there (Hand Up Ministries),” he said. “A lot of the kids will talk to them, just because they've been taught not to be rude. You can imagine what will happen eventually ... given enough time.”
Both Joe's Addiction and Free Store Boutique are in the same shopping center in Valley Brook. A handful of strip clubs and other businesses are clustered nearby. The town hall and police station are nearby, too.