Commissioners hear concerns from residents over proposed halfway house
By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
BAY CITY, MI (WNEM) -
The controversy over the home at 508 S. Wenona St. in Bay City isn't because of something you see on the outside. It's because of who may soon be living here.
"It terrifies me," said Rachel Schmidt, a neighbor to the home.
The Michigan Department of Corrections is considering making the home a halfway house for parolees. Up to three former convicts would wear GPS monitors and use the home as their sanctuary. Rachel Schmidt has a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old. Her children's swingset rests on the fence that divides her property from 508 S. Wenona.
"It would modify our life entirely. We would take a lot more precautions, and I mean, in today's world, there's a lot of unforeseen dangers we can't predict," said Schmidt.
Schmidt took her concerns to the Bay City City Commission on Monday night.
"It seems inexcusable to voluntarily allow this into our community," Schmidt said as she addressed the commission.
Bay City City Commissioner Larry Elliot said the idea does concern him, but he is also the Department of Corrections parole supervisor for Bay County and said these types of homes are needed.
"If we don't give them a place to stay and at least give them some help, they're going to revert back to their old ways, which usually gets them in trouble," said Elliot.
Elliot said the individuals would be monitored by parole officers weekly, monthly or bimonthly, depending on their offense. He went on to say the parolees are coming back to the community anyway and to give them a safe house is the city's best bet.
"I would like you to ask yourself, would you want your children, grandchildren or elderly parents living next to an initiative property like this?" Schmidt asked commissioners at Monday's meeting.
"I feel safe because this is what I do. Would I like one next door to me? No, not particularly," Elliot said following the meeting.
Many residents near the home in question echo those same thoughts.
"I don't know what the answer is; I just don't think the answer is dropping it here. I know it's probably not good anywhere, in anybody's neighborhood. Nobody wants it, I understand that, but we all have to voice our opinion," said Karen Burley-Draves, who lives near the home.
On Monday night, the commission decided to send the issue back to staff to have them do more research on halfway houses, or the Prisoner Reentry Initiative as it's formally called by the Department of Corrections.
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