TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Vigo County commissioners hosted a community input session Monday to discuss possibilities for the location of the former old county jail at 201 Cherry Street.
The commissioners heard from about 25 people who spoke at the session. Many said they believed the old jail building should be torn down given its current condition. One of those who spoke was Colonel Bartley, a local resident who said he thought the meeting was a success.
“This is what these meetings are all about anyway,” he said. “It’s to bring forth ideas, there has to be a decision made and the more information you get– there was quite a few generated tonight.”
Where residents’ ideas mainly differed was what to do with the property going forward. Some believed it could be used as a green space, while others thought a rehabilitation center could go in its place. County commissioner Chris Switzer said all options are on the table– but he also said the county should invest in resources to help the new jail avoid overcrowding, and this site would be a possibility for something like that.
“We just built a $62 million dollar jail. It’s pretty much full,” he said. “At this moment, I don’t want to have to add on to that. I think we should look at other services we can provide as a county to make sure the jail does not get overcrowded, and we can get programming in place to make sure these people, instead of going to jail, they can get their mental health needs. They can get their drug addiction needs.”
Switzer said the next steps following Monday’s meeting would be to meet with members of county council to get their thoughts.
“As for right now, we’re just going to pump the brakes,” he said. “Take a deep breath, figure out what this select group of people wanted and we’ll just move forward with that.”
He also said the county was working to establish what the budget would be for the project. He emphasized that any decision should not increase taxes for residents.
“We want to make sure we have the revenues in place to make sure, if we do make a decision, we have all our bases covered and we don’t have to increase taxation and things like that. We have no plans to do that,” Switzer said.
Another input session is possible as the county decides what to do, but no final decision has been made. Bartley said he hoped meetings like this would occur more often.
“I was delighted with the fact I don’t even know how many people came. The room was full,” he said. “I hope it continues like this on all issues.”