Probation, Juvenile Centers Seen as Obstacles in LSA
(posted Mar 21)
Court Administrator Glenn Lawrence accepted responsibility for keeping
Pike Township residents and elected officials in the dark for more than
a year about relocating a probation office, lock-up, and juvenile center
in the retail center at 3733 Commercial Drive. Lawrence, Northwest Probation
staff, and Marion County Superior Traffic Court Judge William Young explained
their plans and faced some fiery comments from residents and elected officials
at the March 18 meeting unveiling the plan. The meeting was only six days
before the Administration and Finance Committee meets to approve the lease.
Lawrence told worried residents that he made an "assumption"
the probation center would be welcome since it has been located in the
3500 block of Lafayette Road since 2002.
"I'll take the bullet or the buck stop here for not discussing it
with the community," Lawrence said.
He said the building has been vacant five to seven years and that his intentions
were to help revitalize the area by occupying about 25,000 square feet.
He could not answer if Mayor Ballard was aware of the plans.
City County Councilor Doris Minton-McNeil thinks it will detour merchants
from coming into area and be counter productive to the revitalization effort.
She said the Lafayette Square Area Coalition members should be outraged
with his comments about long-term vacancy due to their commitment to rebuild
"We are fighting tooth and nail to grow our community," Minton-McNeil
said. She commented that Speedway is revitalizing its town and it is doubtful
Speedway or Carmel would accept the plan. "Ask them if they would
welcome a situation like this. I bet you they wouldn't. I bet you Carmel
would not welcome a situation like this."
Judge Young explained that they have not been very diligent in explaining
their requirements, but they are limited in places as to where they can
locate. He said that having a tenant "like us" would be a stabilizing
factor in the community.
Judge Young clarified that the lockup is not a jail and described it as
nothing more than a closet to detain people until they are transported
to jail. He did not expect the holding duration to be much more than an
hour until the detainees are transported. Young assured the group there
would be no co-mingling between adults and juveniles being served in the
Margaret Arthur of the Eagledale Neighborhood Association did not have
a problem with proposed probation center. She thought it would increase
retail business from people shopping since the traffic court expects to
serve 800 to 900 people a day.
Mike McCormack, Wayne Township Assessor, said that 10th and Post, where
the current traffic court is located, is not thriving in retail, nor is
Keystone Avenue and 25th Street where the juvenile detention center is.
He encouraged the court administrator to look at the east side of the airport
area as a better fit because it is neither retail nor residential.
Councilor Jose Evans opposed the probation center coming to the area. "I
don't want the probation in my district. You are bringing criminals into
my district," he said.
Susan Blair, president of Pike Township Resident Association, asked if
the court could be located in C-5 zoning. She thinks the area's use as
a retail center could be jeopardized. "I think your location is bad
for what this is area is trying to achieve," Blair said.
Lafayette Square Area Coalition President Mary Clark indicated the current
probation office location may have led to the retailers leaving the strip
center. She thought it might be a possibility that probationers were crossing
the street causing some of the thefts that made retailers vacate.
State Representative Cherrish Pryor said that elected officials should
have been apprised of the plan. She does not see economic development coming
because the probationers are already reside in the area. "We don't
want to have another black spot in the area."
Tom Megenhardt of R. P. Lux, who assisted Lawrence with finding the location,
said that other businesses are waiting to sign leases once this lease is
executed. He did not identify the businesses, but assured that the group
that the traffic court and probation center would encourage other businesses
to come because it generates a high number of people.
State Representative Jeb Bardon said he has spent the last ten years trying
to help residents revitalize area. He talked about the Holt Road extension
as a possibility to revitalize the area. "We've had discussions with
the Town of Speedway. Glenn's wife is the town manager down there."
He explained that Commercial Drive is one of the primary choices for the
Holt Road extension because it leads into the south end of the mall. "It
is our gateway." He said wonderful things are happening in the area,
including $750,000 of CRED money coming to the area.
He was disappointed that it is the 11th hour and the lease is waiting to
be signed. He feels that it is difficult to address the issue "at
this point in the game."
Councilor Marilyn Pfisterer attested that she and Bardon are working on
resources to obtain funds for the Holt Road extension "as far north
as we can possibly bring it." She asked people who pray to put the
Holt Road expansion on their prayer list "because we've had some people
to step up about property willing to donate to that effort."