Neighbors voice concerns for new jail plan

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - People living near the proposed site for the new city jail got a look at the official plans Saturday.

The location will be in the city's Eastview neighborhood - on the same site as the current jail.

The Eastview area has had a jail as a neighbor for 50 years and there are mixed feelings about a new jail staying in the neighborhood for many more.

The jail could stay put for many more with the proposed $116 million Justice Center.

Mary Savage was one of many people that had mixed feelings about the new jail.

"Aesthetically it's going to be a beautiful structure," Savage said.  "It's going to bring beauty to the neighborhood but what's to keep it from being overcrowded?"

The new jail will house 1200 inmates and could fit hundreds more.

Mayor Dwight Jones told the crowd he wanted the new facility to look like an office building and not a jail.

Most people think the design shown does just that - but it doesn't change the fact a jail will be their next door neighbor.

"It's not a good location," said another woman at the meeting.  "It needs to be moved out of that neighborhood where residents are. It needs to go somewhere more industrial."

Ellen Robertson hosted the meeting and agreed a jail isn't what she would want in her district.

"I would much rather have a wonderful, Olympic swimming pool for sports competition than to have a jail," Robertson said.

Robertson said several sites were looked at for the jail and the current jail site would save the city tens of millions of dollars.

Still there are many that simply don't want the jail in their backyard.

"It should have been done a long time ago," one neighbor said during the meeting.  "We all agree to that, but where it's located is not appropriate for the City of Richmond."

The City Council will vote whether to approve this plan in the next few weeks.

Construction could start as soon as next January.