Several residents and other interested parties attended the Starke County Council and Commission meetings Monday night to express concerns over the proposed site for the new Starke County Jail. The site is on the southwest corner of Ind. 8 and C.R. 550 E., east of Knox. Scott Carnegie, architect for the project, presented the proposed layout on the property, and a diagram of the design of the new jail utilizing the existing building for offices with the addition of new facilities for jail intake and inmate housing.
Common concerns included: Increased traffic in an already congested area; safety of area residents; and effects on property value. Commissioners, jail committee members and representatives of the project team from DLZ and Skillman responded to resident’s concerns.
Issues about traffic in the area already exist; the additional traffic would primarily be sheriff’s department vehicles, and the presence of marked patrol cars could actually slow down traffic on Ind. 8. In response to safety concerns related to the possibility of inmates escaping, the security of the new facility would be far greater than the existing jail, and inmates historically tend to leave the area around the jail as soon as possible.
The U.S. Department of Justice has issued an information brief on “Issues in Siting Correctional Facilities,” which is available on the county’s website at www.co.starke.in.us/jail-info . The study on residential values found there was “little or no negative effect on sales price.” Results of the public safety study indicated no significant difference in crime rates. The layout of the proposed new jail also is available at the website.
A number of sites have been considered for the new jail, but Commission President and jail committee chairperson Kathy Norem said, “Of all the sites that we’ve looked at, this is the preferred site.”
The Commissioners agreed to take public comments under advisement, and a special public meeting for final review of the proposed site will be held at 9 a.m. Nov. 27 at the courthouse annex. The county council also scheduled a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 3 to address funding issues associated with the new jail project.