West Indianapolis residents unhappy about justice center plan

The city wants to put the new justice center on the site of the GM stamping plant.
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The city says building a new criminal justice center will save taxpayers money, but the location of the proposed center remains a topic of debate.

Proposed sites include the old airport or closer to downtown at the site of the old GM plant. But many residents there say "not in our backyard."

"Nobody wants it. Nobody wants it," said Joann Cavin.

Emotions ran high Tuesday night as residents heard the city's wish to build a new jail in their neighborhood.

"My kids catch the bus stops, you know what I'm saying, not even a block away from this place," said Jeremy Laux.

The place is the old GM stamping plant. The renderings show a consolidated campus that will also include the criminal courts, community corrections and probation, prosecutor and public defender's offices.

The city boasts an economic impact of about $100 million for the neighborhood.

"(The area for) this to go into is already a high drug and crime area. So you take these inmates that go in, they come out and when they're released they're looking to get high, so what better than that neighborhood that's right beside the jail," said Brittany Laux.

"What we need, we don't need a jail, we need a grocery store," said Cavin.

Residents say their area has been long forgotten and now, their future is even more uncertain.

"We bought our house in 2012. The neighborhood's already full of drugs and crime. Will I ever be able to sell my house if a jail goes in there? Probably not. So what, I'm stuck behind a jail forever? Not happy," Brittany Laux said.

"I had a majority of folks come up to me afterwards and say they want this in their community, because they understand the economic input that it will have," said David Rosenberg, director of enterprise development.

Rahnae Napoleon is a longtime neighborhood activist who wants to see the area revitalized.

"If I had the money, I would put condos overlooking the waterway," she said.

Napoleon says the public meetings seeking their input is an afterthought.

"It seems like a decision has already been made and in such short notice," she said.

Another public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday night. The city hopes to begin soliciting vendors in April.