Tenants in a Holyoke apartment complex across from the future home of the Western Mass Alcohol Correctional Center finally met with Sheriff Michael Ashe and Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse Thursday night regarding a proposal to house the treatment center at the former site of the Holyoke Geriatric Authority.
"We have cars outside, we have kids coming in and out," said Devonshire Place tenant Roland Stebbins.
Safety questions were the main point of discussion at Thursday night's meeting where dozens of Devonshire Place residents heard from Ashe on the proposal to house his alcohol correctional center right next door to their building, at the former Holyoke Geriatric Authority.
"You can imagine their fears, their apprehensions and so on. And I'm there to reassure them that we have a history of being a good neighbor," Ashe said.
Fears and security concerns did seem to fade to more of an understanding as Ashe explained his plans.
"If they're really good neighbors as they profess then whether it's 18 months or two years or 30 months then it probably won't matter," Stebbins said.
The alcohol correctional center run by Ashe must move from its current home on Howard Street in Springfield by the beginning of May while MGM gears up to build their resort casino.
They anticipate housing their treatment center on Lower Westfield Road.
While some people who live at Devonshire Place may have their apprehensions, others like Arthur Dominick say, they'll actually feel safer.
"I believe it was worse off when it was empty because I think there were problems up there and now there's a presence of police up there and a facility up there I think it'll be a real good thing for the community," Dominick said.
The treatment center plans to call the Holyoke Geriatric Authority home for 18 months with plans ahead to move back to Springfield.
"We just want to keep Devonshire the lovely place that we really enjoy so we're hoping it'll be a happy marriage," said tenant Claire Stebbins.
The correctional center will be staffed by 68 employees around the clock.
Ashe has given every tenant at Devonshire Place his direct phone number urging them to call him if they have any hint of a problem.
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