Residents push back on proposal to bring juvenile detention center to Isle of Wight Co.

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WINDSOR, Va. (WAVY) — Residents in and around one Isle of Wight town are lobbying county leaders to vote against a land transfer that would result in a new juvenile detention center. 

On Thursday, Isle of Wight’s Board of Supervisors may choose to hand over 20 acres of farmland, just south of Windsor or Route 258, to the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice in order for the construction of a 60-bed juvenile correctional center. 

The proposed facility will help the DJJ work towards its goal fo replacing its current large facilities with smaller, regional, and treatment oriented juvenile correctional centers according to a FAQ sheet released by Isle of Wight County. The center would employ roughly 240 people, including counselors, medical and education specialists. 

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 The idea was originally planned for the City of Chesapeake, however, it was withdrawn after community pushback

Now, members in and around the small town of Windsor are hoping for a similar outcome.

Monday, Windsor Mayor Glyn Willis hosted a town hall for people to get additional questions for the Board of Supervisors to consider before they make their decision. 

“We won’t be answering questions tonight,” Willis said. “This is just to make sure everyone has a chance to be heard.”

Over 100 people showed up. No one spoke in favor of the project. 

“Are you going to listen to what we say or have you already made up your mind?” said Richard Holland Jr, CEO of Farmers Bank, directing his question to the county lawmakers in attendance. “If you have made up your mind. What can we do to change it?” 

Many residents expressed concern about safety, property values and overall quality of life with the development of a “prison” in their community. 

“I have not gotten an answer as to what is going to be done to make sure we don’t have what happened in North Carolina here,” said Glenn Little referring to the 2017 Attacks at the Pasquotank Correctional Institution.  

Others took issue with the county’s contribution. 

The land valued at $200,000 would be handed over to the state. The county would also be contributing $500,000 to help with water and sewer infrastructure, according to the county.

“It’s been difficult to get people interested in it until this point in time,” said Randy Keaton, Isle of Wight County Administrator. “We’re looking forward to this project to enhancing our economic opportunities of the county.”

The average job at the facility would make $60,000 a year. 

“The Board of Supervisors would never do anything to put the safety of the citizens at risk,” said William McCary, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “We have done our due diligence.” 

A public hearing will precede a possible vote on Thursday. 

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CORRECTION: The orginial article stated the proposed facility would be off Route 268. That is not correct and WAVY.com regrets the error. 

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