CALEDONIA – County officials are considering a site along Three Mile Road, near Batten International Airport here, for the proposed Racine County Youth Development and Care Center. A public input meeting, hosted by Racine County and the Village of Caledonia, is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4 at Caledonia Village Hall, 5043 Chester Lane.
The proposed location is just south of Three Mile Road at the airport’s northeast corner. To learn more about the project, click here.
The planned $42.5 million youth facility would replace the county’s current youth detention center located on the fourth floor of the Dennis Kornwolf Service Center, 1717 Taylor Ave.
It would serve up to 48 youth from Racine County as well as seven other Southeastern Wisconsin counties (Kenosha, Walworth, Ozaukee, Waukesha, Rock and Jefferson).
In addition, the new facility would house and serve youth from the region that are sent to the state Lincoln Hills youth prison. The Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) eventually plans to eventually close that site.
The new facility would provide a modern approach for treating juveniles who are in the criminal justice system. The plans include a school-like setting that would provide vocational training.
A DOC grant would fund nearly all of the facility’s price tag. About $2.5 million would be financed with county-issued bonds.
Prior Location Pushback
County officials received strong pushback from City of Racine leaders on plans to build the 70,000-square-foot youth facility in the 1700 block of Taylor Avenue.
Racine County quietly purchased the former Brannon Lumber Co. property across the street from the Kornwolf Center last July. However, Racine Common Council members complained that they didn’t learn of the property’s planned use until receiving a formal presentation by Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave on Dec. 15.
In early January, Racine Mayor Cory Mason and 13 out of 15 Racine Common Council members sent a letter to Delagrave and the Racine County Board stating that they were “adamantly opposed” to the Taylor Avenue location. While the group wrote that they appreciated the extensive, best-practices planning for the facility, they were extremely unhappy with any location within the Racine city limits.
The city leaders were particularly unhappy with the fact that the Taylor Avenue site is adjacent to residential neighborhoods and is within a few blocks of Knapp Elementary School. They were also critical about the lack of input from neighboring residents and complained that locating a detention center within the city would negatively impact efforts to improve racial equality among its residents.
In his State of the County address on May 25, Delagrave suggested that the proposed Youth Development and Care Center might be constructed outside the city.
All Sites Being Considered
In an email Friday, Racine County spokesman David Maack emphasized that the Caledonia location is under review and that no final decision has been made. That includes the Taylor Avenue property that the county bought for $290,000.
“All proposed sites are still in consideration until a final site is selected and approved by the Racine County Board. At this time, Racine County will continue to solicit community input on the future location of our Youth Development and Care Center,” he wrote.