TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A proposed halfway house hit the first big roadblock this morning. The Topeka neighborhood where former felons could soon be living has many concerned that kids could be at risk.
“The only problem I have with having a halfway house in this neighborhood is that they don’t allow sex offenders to be in this neighborhood or at the halfway house,” Neighbor, Michael Briggs said. “We have a lot of children in this neighborhood.”
Briggs lives two blocks behind where contractors are planning to house federal inmates in this potential new halfway house. The building is located on Southwest 20th street between Western and Filmore will be remodeled. Forty-five inmates could live there once being released. But with the Expocentre and The Great Mural Wall of Topeka next door attracting many kids, the possibility of former inmates being so close had Shawnee County Counselor, Rich Eckert, concerned.
“We even have a senior prom that’s going to be there for goodness sakes this year,” Eckert said. “So it is not a good fit. This is not a good place. ”
Eckert says he’s aware there’s no such thing as a “good place” for a halfway house. But having one at that location isn’t the smartest decision. Now, Eckert is filing a protest petition to put an end to the halfway house project.
“I am the outsider here, I understand that,” Re-Entry Development LLC’s Executive Development, Terry Williams said. “But the returning citizens are not. These are your people coming to live here.”
Williams said her company is faith-based and won’t have sex offenders or anyone released for crimes against children. Some neighbors in the area are understanding that the inmates are citizens of Topeka, like they are.
“Could be a touchy situation for some people,” Neighbor, Robert Charles Trotter Jr. said. “But for me, I don’t have a problem with it. Just make room where needed and keep everybody safe.”
The Shawnee County Commission voted on October 27th to not to have the halfway house. The decision then goes to City Council members in November. If they vote no, then the inmates will not move into the building.