County Youth Development and Care Center approved to be located in Caledonia | Local News

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RACHEL KUBIK

YORKVILLE — After approximately three years of planning, the Racine County Youth Development and Care Center, a new juvenile detention center focusing on mental health rather than punishment and incarceration, is now officially located in Caledonia.

The County Board of Supervisors at its meeting on Tuesday evening voted 16-3 on a resolution to authorize the purchase of land, located along Three Mile Road in the village of Caledonia near Caledonia International Airport Batten, for $1 million and to authorize the construction of the Youth Development and Care Center on the site.






The November 23 County Board of Supervisors meeting was the first meeting at which Peter L. Hansen’s new dedication was on display. Council chairman Thomas Roanhouse, pictured, told the meeting that the dedication looked great and was an honorable way to remember the former county councilor Hansen served more than 30 years in local and county government, including as County Council Chairman and County Executive. He died on April 27 at the age of 72 after a three-year battle with cancer.


RACHEL KUBIK


Supervisors Kelly Kruse, Robert Grove and John Wisch voted against the resolution. The rest of the county council voted in favour, except for Jason Eckman and Thomas Pringle who were excused from the meeting.

The mental health-focused center will replace the existing fourth-floor facility at the Kornwolf Center and serve up to 48 youth from Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha, Manitowoc and Washington counties.

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The current facility has been described as nothing more than a “children’s prison” and is almost windowless. A girl, Maricella Chairez, 16, committed suicide there in December 2017.

Racine County had previously proposed two locations for the $43 million Youth Care and Development Center. The first location was a 2-acre location in the town of Racine at the former Brannum Lumber property on Taylor Avenue across from the county’s Dennis Kornwolf Service Center. The Racine town council strongly opposed this location; the Racine location would also cost millions more than originally projected due to environmental cleanup that the county was originally unaware of when it purchased the land.

The second location, the now approved location, is near the northeast corner of Batten International Airport, 3239 N. Green Bay Road. The facility is to sit on a parcel of approximately 29 acres with a large pond and wooded area. This place was not well received by local residents.

Answers

One of the local residents, Shannon Coey, had previously expressed her opposition to the center publicly and spoke to the county council on Tuesday to raise questions.

“What is the interest for Caledonia? The City of Racine does not want it. Why Caledonia? Coey asked. “Other questions were asked by citizens, namely what crimes did these minors commit? What happens if a minor escapes?

County Executive Jonathan Delagrave addressed this issue later in the meeting stating that there have been no escapes in the nearly 25 years that the existing Kornwolf Center facility has been in operation.

Airport

Tamara Sandberg, director of Batten International Airport, said her staff had productive conversations with Delagrave and company attorney Michael Lanzdorf to discuss concerns about the detention center’s proximity to the airport.

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The airport can work cooperatively with the county to preserve the company’s ability to operate, grow and maintain safe airport operations, she said.

“We would like to express our thanks to him (Delagrave) for his commitment to ensuring that the project does not impose undue constraints on the future needs and safety of the airport,” Sandberg said. “We appreciate this commitment…to consider our feedback and include ourselves in important planning considerations relating to the designed building. »

Officials Comments

During the meeting, there was a lot of discussion between county council members and other county staff.






Portrait of Jonathan Delagrave

Delagrave


Delagrave reiterated that, as he has said before, there is no “perfect” place for this facility, “but what is perfect is our reason for needing this facility.”

“We’ve had a number of issues in our community recently,” he said. “While responses and issues from minors are down, we certainly still have some way to go to reach our goal of zero detention.”






Michael Lanzdorf

Lanzdorf


Lanzdorf told the board that the risk of inaction is significant; inaction could jeopardize the $40 million grant already authorized by the County Board. Nor would the county receive an additional $750,000 each year for construction.

He also said it would cost the county about $6.3 million a year to send Racine County youth to other facilities. The 2022 budget is already planned to include the expenses of the Caledonia youth center.

Additionally, starting from scratch to set up and secure a new site, as well as engage the public, is “time consuming, as this process demonstrates,” Lanzdorf said. “We would find ourselves having to start from scratch, instead of being ready to continue construction when the time is right.”






QA Shakoor II Mug

Shakour


District 6 Supervisor QA Shakoor II, whose district includes the town of Racine and who voted in favor of the resolution, listed other detention centers in Racine County and said there are no had had no negative effects around the areas on housing, property value, safety and business. County professionals and citizens are keeping people safe, he said.






Kelly Kruse

Kruse


District 10 Supervisor Kruse, who voted against the resolution and whose district includes the Caledonia site, said she agreed the $40 million grant was a good opportunity, but “I want to be the voice Caledonia voters,” she said, noting no resident wants this facility in their backyards. “I’ve heard from hundreds of them personally, via calls, emails, the listening session… I’d be doing District 10 a disservice if I didn’t speak up for them. They obviously have concerns.






Donald Trottier, Racine County Council Supervisor

Trotier


District 12 Supervisor Don Trottier, a realtor whose district includes parts of Mount Pleasant and who voted in favor of the resolution, said while there were concerns about falling property values due to the construction of the center, this could happen, “but it will not. He based this statement on properties on 90th Street between Highway 11 and Highway 20, which are near a jail and he said he sold for between $250,000 and $350,000, showing no effect on property values.

District 17 Supervisor Grove, who voted against the resolution, said he still thinks the Racine site on Taylor Avenue would be better. The Grove District comprises the northwestern part of Caledonia.

“Yes, there are challenges, but I think we can overcome them, instead of spending another million dollars on another property,” Grove said. “I’ve spoken to many Caledonia residents, and I can’t find anyone in favor of this location.”






John Wisch

Wisch


Root Journal Times



District 15 Supervisor John Wisch said his constituents were also not supportive of the Caledonia site. The district of Wisch covers the north-eastern part of Caledonia.

“My neighbors don’t want this development, and I have to support them,” Wisch said.

District 5 Supervisor Jody Spencer said instead that she has spoken with concerned constituents and that they support the Caledonia facility. The Spencer district borders the Caledonia site.






Robert Miller

Miller


Root Journal Times



District 11 Supervisor Robert Miller stressed that the center will not look or operate like a typical prison, but rather like a “school and medical clinic combined.” The Miller District also includes parts of Mount Pleasant.

“At one point I think we were all troubled young people, with problems, with difficulties, but most of us had strong adults who pointed us in the right direction. This facility is for troubled youth who don’t have those adults,” Miller said.

Delagrave says he sees both sides; there are “good reasons” to support or oppose the Caledonia site.

“I know this lift is heavy, and I know it’s heavier for some than for others,” Delagrave said. “The county has been left in a difficult situation. This is a mandated service that we must provide, and how we provide it to our at-risk youth shows us what kind of county we are, what we strive to be.

This article has been updated since its publication.

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