The Starke County Commissioners this week met with the county council for a discussion regarding the proposed site for the new county jail facility. A huge public turnout filled the meeting room with concerned residents who were uneasy about the idea of having a jail for their neighbor.
Commissioner Kathy Norem explained that they’ve looked at a number of properties over the last several months as prospective jail sites, but the top contender at the moment is a piece of property located at the intersection of State Road 8 and 550 East.
Representatives from DLZ presented a map of the property in question along with a diagram of the proposed building on the property currently owned by Mark Bailey. The property features a building already established on the lot, and the plans called for utilizing that building with an expansion to the south.
Residents voiced their opposition to the idea, including Knox resident Rhonda Stacy, who said she had some major concerns with safety, traffic, and property values.
“My biggest concerns with the jail going at that location are, first of all, the safety, the traffic, and the property value in the area. I have a teenage daughter, I’m very concerned over the safety with the jail being there. I know we don’t have a lot of escapes but they can happen. Also, with the traffic, I’m concerned with the increased traffic, the speed of the traffic, the amount – especially with having teenage drivers – the speed of the police cars coming in and out,” said Stacy.
However, Norem explained that the Department of Justice has done numerous studies on the effects jails have on property values. She said the studies have shown that jails do not have a negative impact on property values. On top of that, Paul Downing of DLZ explained that jails typically make good neighbors, as they are secure and carry a level of safety.
While the commissioners and jail committee are still discussing other options, this location appears to be the most promising. A final decision will be made at a meeting of the commissioners on Nov. 27 at 9 a.m.