More than 100 concerned residents packed into the Bellows Falls Opera House Wednesday night for a public forum on a proposed $23-million pre-trial detention facility in town.
If approved, a 74,000-square-foot justice center would be erected on property that now houses the defunct Liberty Paper Co. building off Westminster Street. The building would include 120 secure units for male detainees, 20 units for females and an additional 35 units to be used as transitional housing for prisoners prior to their release.
Windham County Sheriff Keith Clark took questions for approximately two hours during last night’s forum, and was met with both support and objection to his proposal.
Supporters say the facility would clean up an area on the riverfront that’s been deserted for some 20 years, and bring jobs to the community.
But those against the project say the prison would bring added congestion to the village’s already crowded downtown and surrounding streets.