In Russell Kentucky, the city council has unanimously voted to seize a convalescent home in order to replace it with a parking lot that will benefit the businesses downtown.

The city released a statement saying that Russell is growing and new businesses are coming to town.

“With all of this progress, some change is necessitated,” the release said. “The city needs the land located at 407 Ferry Street – directly across from the City Building and the Police Station for a green space and parking,”

For 50 years, the Russell Convalescent Home has been at its present address, 407 Ferry St, Russell, KY 41169. It serves disabled adults by providing them a supervised and structured living environment while teaching them adult daily living skills. The proximity to downtown was always a plus for the residents who could learn independence by working locally. Many local businesses were willing to hire residents from RCH who built their self-esteem and learned valuable skills by working simple jobs.

Other residents who were not capable of working unsupervised still enjoyed the proximity to downtown, as they were able to walk the streets with their direct care workers. Chances are you’ve encountered a group like this and seen the joy for the residents in being out in public.

The city taking this land doesn’t pass the smell test. Firstly, there was no offer to buy the land — the city seized it and said it will pay “fair market value.” Secondly, the definition of what the public good is is quite questionable here. Let’s look at the overhead map:

There’s plenty of green space and ample street parking. Right across the street from the convalescent home is the City Municipal Building, which has 25 parking spaces. Check out the street view of the Municipal building from Google Maps.

And Google street view has one more important picture. Let’s look at the Russell Convalescent Home across the street from the Municipal Building.

Is it possible that the politicians didn’t like seeing or hearing disabled adults outside of their building? This place is both a building AND a home for the residents. Eminent Domain — the public taking of private property — is usually morally wrong. In this case it appears to be egregiously wrong, and is taken as an action against those who are unable to defend themselves.

You can make a difference. Sam Simpson is the mayor of Russell. His phone number is (606) 836-9666. His email address is You can contact him directly and ask that the city refer the matter to an impartial body to review the taking. The city council voting that they don’t want to see disabled adults is a terrible image.


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