.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Latest plan to move Community Corrections abandoned

-A A +A

Neighbors of site near fairgrounds object

By Ramsey Scott

Jeffco has decided to abandon its latest idea for relocating the Community Corrections facility after hearing from angry neighbors of a potential site near the Jeffco Fairgrounds.

The county had identified a property near the fairgrounds and Foothills Animal Shelter at 15650 W. Sixth Ave. as a potential new home for Community Corrections. The current facility, commonly referred to as the New York Building, is on Kendall Street between West 16th and 17th avenues.

Yet after the latest plan was proposed a few weeks ago, the county heard numerous complaints from neighbors about having the facility so close to residences and the fairgrounds.

More than 20 people spoke at the county commissioners’ May 20 public hearing before a packed room of neighbors who opposed the move, saying a Community Corrections facility would be a danger to kids who use nearby parks and to people at the fairgrounds.

Several said the neighborhood was a poor choice because the Community Corrections clients would enter and leave the neighborhood at one point, and because of a lack of bus options. That would mean the clients would be in contact with neighborhood children, they said.

Amy Sears, a neighborhood resident, said she and her neighbors had learned about the plan the previous last week. They formed a group called Coalition for a Safe Fairgrounds and showed up in force at the May 20 meeting. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt so passionately against something in my life. That drove us to go to extreme lengths to communicate,” Sears said. “It was a reassuring and wonderful thing to know the commissioners are listening to us.”

One resident who spoke at the meeting said the facility would put her entire neighborhood on lockdown and that she wouldn’t let her grandchildren play in her yard anymore if Community Corrections moved into the neighborhood. 

Jenniffer Mordick, who brought her young son to the meeting and stood him on the table next to the podium during her comments, said she was there to make sure her son is safe in their neighborhood. A former owner of a medical marijuana dispensary, she asked after the meeting why a Community Corrections building would be allowed next to a park but a dispensary wasn’t.  

The commissioners voted 3-0 after the public hearing to try to find another solution. The county has been looking for a new home for Community Corrections for more than four years.

During staff briefings before the vote, County Administrator Ralph Schell said there is a lot of misinformation about Community Corrections and how it works in the community. Schell presented a report from Lakewood Police Chief Kevin Paletta that found the rate of crime near the current facility is no higher than that expected near a similarly sized apartment building.

The current Community Corrections facility houses about 250 convicted felons who have been released from prison.

The agency accepts some offenders and parolees and monitors them while they transition back into society. The center provides an alternative to prison for certain inmates who pass a three-level screening process.

The current facility is in need of $5 million to $6 million in repairs. The county has said the cost to renovate the New York Building to better accommodate Community Corrections better would be more than $5 million to $6 million.

Several people said the neighborhood was a poor choice because there was only access point for residents in the Community Corrections facility to enter and leave the neighborhood and a lack of bus options near the proposed site would mean convicted felons would be sharing the same paths as children.

Amy Sears, a resident in the neighborhood next to the proposed site, said she and her neighbors learned about the idea last week. They formed a group called Coalition for a Safe Fairgrounds and showed up in force at the May 20 meeting to make sure the commissioners knew they’re strong opposition. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt so passionately against something in my life. That drove us to go to extreme lengths to communicate,” Sears said. “It was reassuring and wonderful thing to know the commissioners are listening to us.”

One resident who spoke at the meeting said the facility would put her entire neighborhood on lockdown and she’d not let her grandchildren play in her yard anymore if Community Corrections moved into the neighborhood. 

Jenniffer (CQ) Mordick, who brought her young son to the meeting and stood him on the table next to the podium during her comments, said she was there to make sure her son was safe in their neighborhood. A former owner of a medical marijuana dispensary, she asked after the meeting why a community corrections building would be allowed next to a park but a dispensary wasn’t.  

During the staff briefings after the public comments, County Administrator Ralph Schell said there was a lot of misinformation in the public about what Community Corrections is and how it works in the community. Schell presented a report from Lakewood Police Chief Kevin Paletta that found the rate of crime near the current facility was no higher than the rate of crime expected from a similarly-sized apartment building. 

“We’re disappointed. It’s the reality of the situation but we have put a lot of effort and energy to move forwardwith this site. I continue to believe from my personal view it’s a viable site but obviously I will take the direction of the commissioners and move on,” Schell said. “I can understand them having concerns but the report has factual information from the past few years and it shows the situations they’re concerned about didn’t occur on the current site.” 

Schell said the current facility is in close proximity to both school and parks and there haven’t been incidents involving residences of the facility. 

The current Community Corrections facility houses about 250 convicted felons who have been released from prison. The service takes some offenders and parolees and monitors them while they transition back into society. The center provides an alternative to prison for certain inmates who pass a three-level screening process before being admitted.

The current facility is in need of $5-6 million in repairs to bring it up to standard. The county has said the cost to renovate the New York Building to accommodate community corrections better would be higher than $5-6 million.