CALEDONIA — Racine County is proposing another possible location for its Youth Development and Care Center, a “state-of-the-art” juvenile detention facility, following decisions to place the center in the City of Racine that were not well received by the Common Council and hints in May that the location may be moved.
The second tentative location is the northeast corner of the Batten International Airport, 3239 N. Green Bay Road, along 3 Mile Road in the Village of Caledonia. The facility would rest within a nearly 29-acre parcel that features a large pond and wooded area to act as a “natural buffer” between the facility and nearby residential areas.
All proposed locations are still under review and not yet final — pending official County Board action.
Racine County, in partnership with the Village of Caledonia, is seeking community input on the Youth Development and Care Center and its proposed location at a village “Public Information Meeting.” The meeting is to be held at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 4 at the Caledonia Village Hall, 5043 Chester Lane.
The Taylor Avenue site is still an option; the county has proposed another site, but not because City of Racine officials and residents opposed the former. The county found it would cost an additional $3 million to $5 million to construct the facility at that site due to poor soil and environmental conditions, County Executive Jonathan Delagrave said Monday afternoon in a statement to The Journal Times Monday.
“The county would need to commit a sizable portion of the $40 million state grant to site-specific premiums rather than on what is best for our youth,” he said. “The county therefore continued studying alternative locations — carefully considering cost, infrastructure needs and premiums, and access and distance from homes, schools, and community-based.”
The institutional model for juvenile corrections “simply does not work,” he said, and the county wants to provide youth a state-of-the-art facility and programming to help them succeed.
Plans to achieve that include reduced detention capacity, visitation time for families, additional classrooms, multi-purpose rooms, after-school and evening programming and outdoor space for exercise.
“The mission and the vision for the Youth Development and Care Center remain the same,” Delagrave said.
The amount of $290,000 for purchasing the former Brannum Lumber property on Taylor Avenue with the intent of making it a juvenile detention facility (or at least a parking lot to serve the facility) was approved in July 2020, although word of it flew mostly under the radar until months later.
The majority of Racine’s 15 aldermen, as well as Mayor Cory Mason, opposed the county’s plan to build its juvenile detention center on Taylor Avenue. But, when the County Board voted to move forward with the $45 million project, only one supervisor, Fabi Maldonado, voted in opposition.
Opposition from Mason or the Racine City Council wouldn’t have any legal power on the Taylor Avenue property. The county owns the land and thus can build on it without city approval.
The proposed Racine County Youth, Development and Care Center will replace that facility and serve a maximum of 48 youths from Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha, Manitowoc and Washington counties.
The County Board may consider the Caledonia site later in August. County officials have had preliminary discussions with village officials about the site and are set to continue discussion in the coming months.
“We look forward to continuing to share these plans with the community and receive feedback at the Village of Caledonia Information Meeting,” Delagrave said.