A couple hundred people left a Lakewood planning commission meeting satisfied on Sept. 9.
Lakewood planning commission voted against relocating a men’s community corrections facility from the …
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Lakewood planning commission voted against relocating a men’s community corrections facility from the historic New York Building at 1651 Kendall St. in Lakewood to a building located near West 8th Avenue and Quail Street in Lakewood.
Four out of six planning commissioners voted no on the request.
Lakewood resident Charley Able said he is “thrilled for the community.”
“Anytime a grassroots reaction results in a win for the community, it’s a great thing,” he said.
The meeting was a continuation of a Sept. 2 meeting in which about 250 people attended and about 70 people spoke — including local businesses and neighborhood residents. Public comment concluded just after 1:30 a.m. at that meeting, and remained closed for the Sept. 9 meeting.
“We showed up with our facts,” said Diane Duffey, local resident and president of the Daniels Welchester Homeowner’s Association. “We did our research and we proved our point. This was the wrong location for this facility.”
Although the facility is located in Lakewood, Jefferson County oversees its funding. Day-to-day operations of the community corrections facilities are contracted to Intervention Community Corrections Services, a private nonprofit community corrections agency.
The New York building was built in 1922 and now is in need of repairs that could require up to $5 million to bring it up to code. So the county entered into an agreement with Littleton Group LLC for the design-build and purchase of a $14 million building at the West 8th Avenue and Quail Street. However, it was contingent on Lakewood planning board approving a special use permit for the facility.
On Aug. 18, Jefferson County commissioners postponed signing the purchase-sale agreement until the Lakewood planning board made its decision.
“It’s unfortunate, but we’ll move on,” Jefferson County Manager Ralph Schell said. “We went through the process, and planning commission made their decision.”
Jefferson County has been searching for a new location for the facility for a number of years, Schell said. But, moving forward, the county will be looking at doing the necessary repairs to the New York building, he added.
The county will “keep doing everything we can for the benefit of community corrections,” he said. “Everyone says, ‘we need to have it, but not in my back yard.’”
Lakewood planning Commissioner Robert Eadie stated he understands the need for a well-run community corrections facility. The goal of rehabilitation, he said, is to get people “get back on their feet” and feeling that they are part of the community again.
However, Eadie based his opposing vote on his opinion that the proposed location would be too small to house 250 people, that it was not appropriate to place it adjacent to a commercial zone and that it would be located too close to an existing women’s corrections facility.
These were some of the main concerns among residents, Duffey said.
The women’s community corrections facility has a capacity of 140 people, and it is about 1,000 yards from the site proposed for the men’s facility, Duffey said in a previous interview. In addition, a school is a couple of blocks away on 10th Street, a public health building that serves families and children is nearby, and the Developmental Disabilities Resource Center is directly across the street, she said.
The vulnerability of these nearby community members was a big concern, Duffey said.
“This was a big decision tonight,” Lakewood resident Mike Shaug said.
Most of the offenders probably do try to “put their best foot forward” and become productive members of the community, he said, but there’s always those one or two who present the “unknown variables.”
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