Monday, June 8, 2009

Residents Protest Proposed Jail Site

Several people who live in the area of a proposed jail annex in west Cookeville showed up at Putnam County's planning committee meeting Monday night to voice their opposition to the idea of building a jail near their homes. The site is located off Holder Avenue adjacent to an auto salvage yard, and that fact alone, according to one resident, should be enough to concern county officials. Denise Gribble says the property under consideration is polluted by oil and other toxic run-off from the junkyard. She also said it was located too close to schools and homes and told commissioners that no one could guarantee her that maximum security prisoners wouldn't be housed in the facility at some point in the future. Danny Frye, who says he was born on Holder Avenue, told the committee that the property is "nothing but a swamp," and unsuitable for building. He also said Holder Avenue was not meant as a commercial access road and said the property is zoned for residential development. County commissioner Gene Mullins, who represents the area, said that -- as a chemist -- he was very concerned about the environmental impact of any run-off from nearby property. He says the cost of mediating that contamination could significantly impact the cost of the property overall. A motion to consider the site as the location for a primarily minimum security institution was defeated on a 7-to-4 vote, but the issue cannot die in committee, It will apparently be presented to the full commission without recommendation in July.