Plans to build juvenile detention center move forward in Isle of Wight County

Posted: 1:06 AM, Feb 22, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-22 17:23:42-05
Plans to build juvenile detention center move forward in Isle of Wight County

ISLE OF WIGHT Co., Va. - After nearly five and a half hours, the Board of Supervisors voted to move forward to start negotiations on the terms of sale on the land for the juvenile detention facility.

The final vote was 3 to 2. Richard Grice, Rudolph Jefferson, William McCarty voted yes, and Joel Acree and Don Rosie voted no.

While many people at the meeting were up in arms, Director of the Department of Juvenile Justice Andy Block says this is a win for the county and state.

Looking forward, he says the next phases are about planning and coming to an agreement with the board of supervisors.

"We need to reach an agreement with the county about the terms of the conveyance, but I'm optimistic that will not present a major obstacle going forward," Block said.

Before coming to the decision, the board heard from people across the county.  The majority of people spoke against the project, but others showed support.

Those against the facility say they fear for their safety and are concerned that the value of their homes will go down.

Many raised questions about what type of boundary will guard the facility and how guards can protect the community without being armed.

"This is not the place. We're not against the people, we're not against the youth. We are just saying this is not the place for it," said Windsor resident Louise Bennett.

It will be a 60-bed facility that employs 240 people with wages around $60,000 per year. Those employed will include medical specialists and counselors.

The DJJ says programs will be structured towards rehabilitation rather than punishment.

Block says there will be opportunities for the young men to meet with counselors and education specialists to grow.

Given it is a smaller facility, the juveniles will be given more attention.

Everyone being housed inside the facility will also be within a four-hour range of their families, according to a presentation at Thursday's meeting. Block says that will help relationship building and cut down on recidivism rates.

Despite comments from DJJ officials, many Isle of Wight County residents left Thursday's meeting frustrated and upset.

Many told News 3 reporter Erin Miller that the board didn't listen to them and their concerns have been pushed to the side. Some may even consider moving.

The county has been in talks with the state on the project since late 2017.

Block says the goal is to have the facility under construction by 2021 and have the juveniles moved in by 2022. That is subject to change based on negotiations.

The center will be built on a 20-acre plot of land along Route 258 and two miles down 460. It's otherwise known as the Shirley T. Holland Intermodal Park Phase III.

The land is valued at $200,000, and the county has also agreed to contribute $500,000. County officials say this will help with water and sewer infrastructure.