Community weighs in on proposed jail site

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - There are a lot of homeowners who want nothing to do with a Lucas county jail at Detroit and Alexis.

"If I go to the end of the street I can see it from my house," Dave Stasko, who lives in a neighborhood off of Detroit said.

"Concerns are safety and property values. You're never going to take away the stigma of a jail being down the street," Kellie Schlachter, a Shoreland/Point Place resident and block watch co-captain said.

But according to the county the site makes sense. Commissioners say the area is mostly industrial and commercial, the site is big enough, at 25 acres and the price is right at about $1 million.

At the same time county leaders say they recognize the community's hesitation but point out," there is not a site in the city of Toledo, in our research, that has no impact," Lucas county commissioner Pete Gerken told 13abc.

Detroit and Alexis is the third property in Toledo pursued by the county. Many question why the search wasn't expanded to a more rural part of the area. Gerken says it boils down to safety.

"You can't ask Toledo police officers to drive 30 minutes each way on each arrest," Gerken said. "That would take crews off the streets for the citizens of Toledo."

Lucas county sheriff, John Tharp, is also trying to calm fears saying a new jail doesn't mean there will be more crime.

"When people are released, they want to get away from the jail," he said. "They want to get home. They want to go back to their community."

He also adds that a brand new facility would be safer for deputies and allow his office to implement new technologies that could streamline operations.

"This is really a modern way to do business," Sheriff Tharp said. "We really have to get out of the stone age that we're in and move forward and get this done."

But all of it comes at a cost for taxpayers in Lucas county.

In order for any of these plans to come to life, voters will need to approve a 37-year levy that would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $4 a month.

Some people in the area are trying to be open-minded, even though the jail would be across the street from their homes.

"You don't want something like that in your backyard, but if it's going to be OK and it's going to help the county, that's going to be alright," Roger Augustyniak, who's lived off of Detroit for 53 years, said.

Others are digging in their heels and circulating petitions, promising to fight.

"We're going to do what we have to do to stop it," Stasko said.

Another big question is why can't the jail stay downtown? Gerken and Tharp say it would be too expensive to tear it down and rebuild. They also say the design, building up instead of out, poses safety issues for deputies.

More meetings will be held with more specifics on the design. No official date has been set.