WINDSOR, Va. (WAVY) — Despite heavy pushback from the community, the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors voted Thursday night to transfer 20 acres of farmland for a juvenile correction center proposed in the county.
The close 3-2 vote, with Supervisor’s Acree and Rosie voting “no”, came after more than three hours of public comment Thursday night.
The move allows the county and Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice to begin negotiating on a final development agreement that if approved by the Board of Supervisors, would allow construction to begin.
“What people need to understand is that this step just allows us to negotiate with the state,” said William McCarty, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “If we don’t come to terms, the deal is off.”
The proposed facility would sit just outside the Town of Windsor on Route 258. The 60-bed facility, that could eventually be expended to 72-beds, would help the DJJ work towards its goal fo replacing its current large facilities with smaller, regional, and treatment oriented juvenile correctional centers according to DJJ Director Andrew Block. The center would employ roughly 240 people, including counselors, medical and education specialists.
However, like on Monday night, people showed up in force again to speak out against the project.
With signs saying “vote no,” critics not only filled the boardroom but also outside in the hallway and downstairs. Their message was clear, they don’t want the project in the community.
Following the vote, RISE for Youth Executive Director Valerie Slater, Esq., released a statement, that reads, in part:
“The Board of Supervisors must listen to this clear message from their constituents. A better approach to youth justice starts with dismantling the remotely placed facilities model and investing in the communities most in need. We hope the Board of Supervisors will continue to engage with and listen to the community before making a final decision.”
“I think you need to be more concerned about the citizens here, than the parents about those here in prison,” said Richard Holland Jr., CEO of Farmers Bank. “You have messed this up in every point, in every point in the process. Why don’t you swallow up your pride and do the right thing here.”
But not everyone was against the project.
More than a few speakers say this is an opportunity, and the county would be forward thinking by providing troubled youth a place to learn how to act like a productive member of society.
The county has been talking with the state about the project since late 2017. The idea was originally planned for the City of Chesapeake, however, it was withdrawn after community pushback.