Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe is not having an easy time finding a new home for the Western Mass Correctional Alcohol Center. He abandoned plans to move it to Springfield's north end when people who live there put up a fight.Now, he's running into opposition from people who live near the latest proposed location.
If Ashe gets his way, the correction's center will move into the former Ring Nursing Home on Mill Street. The center is a minimum security, community based facility designed to provide for the custody, care and treatment of addicted offenders from five counties.
People who live near the former nursing home met Monday night. They heard from Governor's councilor and rumored candidate for Hampden County Sheriff Michael Albano. He encouraged Mill Street residents to join the lawsuit filed by attorney Shawn Allen against Sheriff Ashe, the state and the developer of the failed Wason Avenue site.
Allen contends the Mill Street site is no better than Wason Avenue, adding, “It's dead center in a residential neighborhood. There's apartment dwellings across the street, there's also single family homes here. Really, a jail does not belong in a residential neighborhood.”
Allen says if Mill Street is chosen, neighbors will go to court to stop it. He contends the only two agencies that can place a correctional center in a residential area are the Governor and the Department of Corrections. He contends, “They're using something called the Dover amendment that was meant for non-profit organizations to not be prohibited from placing treatment facilities or education facilities in communities.”
The state division of capital asset management will decide on the new location. The treatment facility is temporarily located in the former Holyoke Geriatric Authority building. It was forced to move from its home on Howard Street to make way for the MGM casino.