Shatner Sober-House CutbackBy Amy
February 26, 2001 - 3:49 PM
When William Shatner lost his wife Nerine in an alcohol-related drowning in late 1999, he was determined to take something positive away from the experience. With that in mind, he established a memorial fund and recently purchased a $750,000 residence in between Cheviot Hills and Beverlywood to aid 'Friendly House'.
'Friendly House' is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping recovering women alcoholics – such as Nerine who spent a month at the original Friendly House residential center before her untimely demise. Original plans for the new 'Nerine Shatner Friendly House', unfortunately, have had to be scaled back due to complaints from neighbours worried about noise, crowding and parking problems.
While originally slated to play host to some twenty four women, the city building, who become involved after the complaints, has deemed that less than half that number – only 11 – may in fact take up residence in the house. General guidelines state that there should only be one occupant per 300 square feet, and the 5-bedroom house comes in at 3,367.
Reaction to this limitation has been mixed – understandably both Shatner and Peggy Albrecht, executive director of the organization, are disappointed, after all, "They were planning for 24 women". Albrecht, however, is quoted as saying that "If we can help just one person, that gift is worthwhile." Local residents, interestingly enough, appear to be somewhat divided on the issue. Julia Maher, president of the Castle Heights Neighborhood Assn believes that the Friendly House "is a responsible foundation that wants to work with the neighborhood." Steve Siegel, resident of 26 years however, is "not wild about it being there", but is "13 times more happy with 11 than with 24."
Still despite the cutbacks in the size of the operation, plans for the residence are still going ahead. At the very least it will take some of the strain off the foundation’s original residences in Normandie Avenue and Koreatown, providing an alternative to the “grittiness” of the aging facilities.