By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer
Relocating a juvenile detention center could face opposition from property owners who fear it might be moved into their neighborhoods.
A southwest Muskogee resident expressed dissatisfaction with news the Muskogee County Regional Juvenile Center might relocate near the city’s animal shelter. The shelter is located on the north side of Border Avenue about eight blocks west of U.S. 69 near a residential area and golf course.
City administrators recently approached county officials about moving the juvenile detention facility. The facility is located within an area targeted for urban renewal and reportedly has drawn the interest of developers.
Commissioner Gene Wallace, District 1, said city officials would like to swap land with the county in order to move the detention center and open West Shawnee Bypass for new development. Wallace said the swap would include some sort of financial payout to cover the cost of relocating the 10-bed facility.
Relocation options discussed recently included the expansion of the Muskogee County/City Detention Facility, property just east of City Hall, and the Border Avenue parcel. Floyd Rowe, who owns about 22 acres adjacent to the Border Avenue site, balked at the Border Avenue proposal.
“If it’s moved from where it is, that may solve one problem,” Rowe told county commissioners during their regular meeting Monday. “But it would create another one.”
Rowe expressed concerns a detention facility would drive down the value of his property. Rowe said he is unopposed to the proposed relocation, but he believes “there are better places to do that.”
Muskogee County Sheriff Charles Pearson said the parcel that prompted Rowe’s objection is one he would not favor. Pearson, along with Commissioners Stephen Wright, District 2, and Dexter Payne, District 3, said he prefers a location closer to the courthouse.
Wallace said the decision about where the juvenile detention center will be moved is still a long way down the road. He said the Border Avenue site “is just one possibility.”
The 10-bed juvenile detention center was built in the 1980s by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. In 1995, the Office of Juvenile Affairs was created as an agency separate from DHS and assumed oversight of the state’s regional system of juvenile detention facilities.
Pearson has said he hopes to expand the facility’s capacity when a new center is built. That, officials said, may require OJA approval.
Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or email@example.com.
By D.E. Smoot
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