Neighbors more optimistic over future site of Alcohol Correction - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Neighbors more optimistic over future site of Alcohol Correctional Addiction Center

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

People who live near the future site of the Hampden County Sheriff's Correctional Addiction Center in Springfield say they're making positive steps forward.

They had a private meeting Wednesday night with people from the Sheriff's office and say they now feel much more involved in the process.

"It was positive, it was fully engaging, we have an opportunity as to what we would like to see, what our concerns were," said nearby business owner Demetrius Panteleakis.

A small advisory group met at the Center for Human Development, hoping to create an open dialogue with the Sheriff's Department after a rocky start months ago.

The correctional addiction center set its sights on the former Ring nursing home on Mill Street but was met with much resistance.

Neighbors next door filed a lawsuit claiming their civil rights were being violated. That was withdrawn after a judge said it would be a difficult case to prove.

But Wednesday night as the group left their meeting the tide had turned.

"Our intention in these community meetings is to hear input from the community, answer questions and move forward," said Steven O’Neil, community affairs director for the Hampden County Sheriff.

Neighbors were invited to give input on everything from building facade to landscaping and were given a much clearer picture on how the facility would operate.

"It’s obviously important to us as business owners but also as neighbors who are engaged in the community. I think this answers a lot of questions that I think everybody has," said nearby business owner Walter Kroll.

It comes after a tumultuous time for the sheriff's office. A plan to build in the North End of Springfield last summer was also met with a lawsuit.

"I applaud the developer and specifically the sheriff's department they did a great job tonight," Panteleakis said.

The group plans to meet again next month.

In the meantime, the addiction center has been temporarily housed in Holyoke’s former geriatric authority building.

The Mill Street facility is expected to open within the next six months. 

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