Concerns rising over proposed location for new halfway house - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Concerns rising over proposed location for new halfway house

Posted: Updated:

A halfway house could be coming to Evansville, but some people are concerned that it's going to be located too close to a school.

The proposed site is 1325 East Virginia Street. The building currently houses Shamrock Engineering and is across the street from Oak Hill Cemetery. 

Evansville already has a halfway house called Hope House, run by the Volunteers of America. The house is on East Franklin Street. This location and the proposed site for the new transition house are both close to Joshua Academy.

But the new proposed location is within 1000 feet of a school, which is against city ordinance.

The halfway houses are contracted through the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The group The Transition House Inc. has placed a bid for the contract for the next five years.

The group has filed a special use permit to operate a residential re-entry center and has applied for a variance with the Area Planning Commission to relax the ordinance that requires a re-entry center to be at least 1,000 feet from a school.

Officials tell 14 News that ordinance was passed late last year in anticipation of this process.  

Joshua Academy Principal Pam Decker says she is concerned because many of her students walk to school and residents have mixed reaction.  

"Just people trying to work their way back into society after making mistakes along the way. I don't really see why anybody should have that big of a problem with it. I think it's just more people trying to get back in the job market, better themselves, support themselves and integrate themselves back into society. I don't personally have a problem with it," says Aaron Gish, who lives across from the academy.

Don Garrett, who live on East Illinois Street has a different view.

"I don't think it's a good idea. We've been fighting drug problems in this neighborhood for a number of years and we don't need any more problems to add to the problems. It's been a battle now for years," he says.

Steven Bohleber, who represents the Transition House says the federal inmates that are released and will use the halfway house are not sex offenders and are generally non-violent offenders. He says residents should be happy something like this is in place to improve the community. 

"I think those concerned about it, they should really embrace it because it is truly trying to make sure that when these people are released, that they do the proper things, that they have the proper opportunities to become productive members of society," Bohleber says.

The Board of Zoning appeals meets next Thursday, January 16 at 4:00 p.m. in the Civic Center, room 301. It is a public meeting and many residents says they'll be there to voice their opinions.

Copyright 2014 WFIE. All rights reserved.
Powered by WorldNow