District youth development and care center approved for location in Caledonia | Local news

YORKVILLE – After about three years of planning, the Racine County Youth Development and Care Center, a new youth prison that focuses on mental health rather than punishment and incarceration, is now officially set to be established in Caledonia.

The district board of trustees at its meeting on Tuesday evening voted 4: 3 for a resolution to approve the purchase of land along Three Mile Road in the village of Caledonia near Batten International Airport for $ 1 million and to approve the construction of the youth project and care center on site.

Superiors Kelly Kruse, Robert Grove and John Wisch voted against the decision. The rest of the county board voted in favor, with the exception of Jason Eckman and Thomas Pringle, who were excused from the meeting.

The mental health center is to replace the existing facility on the fourth floor of the Kornwolf Center and serve a maximum of 48 youth from Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha, Manitowoc and Washington counties.

The current facility has been described as a “prison for children” and is almost windowless. A girl, 16-year-old Maricella Chairez, committed suicide there in December 2017.

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Racine County had previously proposed two locations for the $ 43 million youth development and care center. The initial location was on a 2 acre lot in the town of Racine on the former Brannum Lumber property on Taylor Avenue across from the county Dennis Kornwolf Service Center. The council of the city of Racine rejected this location decisively; the Racine site would also cost millions more than originally expected as the county was initially unaware when it bought the land.

The second location, the now approved location, is located near the northeast corner of Batten International Airport at 3239 N. Green Bay Road. The facility is to rest on approximately 29 hectares of land with a large pond and a wooded area. This place is not well received by local residents.


One of the residents, Shannon Coey, had previously spoken out publicly against the center and spoke to the district council on Tuesday to ask questions.

“What is the benefit for Caledonia? The city of Racine doesn’t want that. Why should Caledonia? “Asked Coey.” Other questions were asked by citizens, and that is, what crimes have these youths committed? What happens if a youth escapes? “

District Executive, Jonathan Delagrave, addressed this issue later in the session by stating that there had been no attempted escape in the nearly 25 years that the existing Kornwolf Center facility has been in operation.


Tamara Sandberg, director of Batten International Airport, said her staff had productive discussions with Delagrave and corporation counsel Michael Lanzdorf to address concerns about the detention center’s proximity to the airport.

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The airport may work with the county to maintain the company’s ability to operate, expand and maintain safe airport operations, she said.

“We would like to thank him (Delagrave) for his commitment to ensure that the project does not unduly limit future needs and the security of the airport,” said Sandberg. “We appreciate this commitment, … to take our input into account and to include us in important planning considerations relating to the planned building.”

Official comments

During the meeting, there was much discussion between the district officers and other district workers.


Delagrave reiterated that, as he said, there is no “perfect” location for this facility, “but what is perfect is our rationale for the need for this facility.”

“We’ve had a number of problems in our community just recently,” he said. “Although youth responses and problems have decreased, we certainly still have a way to go towards our goal of zero incarceration.”

Michael Lanzdorf


Lanzdorf told the board that the risk of inaction was significant; Inaction could jeopardize the $ 40 million state grant already approved by the county board. The county would also not receive an additional $ 750,000 each year to build it.

He also said it would cost the county approximately $ 6.3 billion each year to send Racine County youth to other facilities. The 2022 budget already includes costs for the Caledonia youth center.

In addition, setting up and securing a new location is starting from scratch and involving the public is “very time-consuming, as this process shows,” says Lanzdorf. “We had to start from scratch instead of being ready to continue building when the time was right.”

QA Shakoor II mug


District 6 Supervisor QA Shakoor II, the district of which the city of Racine is a part of and who voted for the resolution, listed the other Racine County’s detention centers and said there was no negative impact on housing, property value, safety or business in any of these areas have. Professionals and citizens across the county keep people safe, he said.

Kelly Kruse


Kruse, the supervisor of District 10, who voted against the resolution and whose district includes the Caledonia site, said she agrees that the $ 40 million grant is a good opportunity, but “I want that Be the voice of the voters of Caledonia, ”she said, noting that no resident would like to have this facility in their garden. “I’ve heard from hundreds of them in person, through the phone calls, emails, the listening session … I wouldn’t be doing District 10 a favor if I didn’t speak for them. You obviously have concerns. “

Donald Trottier, Racine County's Board Chairman


District 12 supervisor Don Trottier, a real estate agent whose district includes parts of Mount Pleasant and who voted for the resolution, said although there are concerns about declining property values ​​due to the center being built, this could happen, but it won’t. “He Based that statement on lots on 90th Street between Hwy 11 and Hwy 20 that are near a jail and said they sold between $ 250,000 and $ 350,000, which had no impact on property value.

District 17 supervisor Grove, who voted against the resolution, said he still thinks the Racine site on Taylor Avenue would be better. The Grove district comprises the northwestern part of Caledonia.

“Yes, there are some challenges, but I think we can overcome them instead of spending another million dollars on another property,” said Grove. “I have spoken to many of the residents of Caledonia and cannot find anyone to speak for this location.”

John Wisch


Pete Wicklund

District 15 supervisor John Wisch said his constituents are also not in favor of the Caledonia site. The district of Wisch comprises the northeastern part of Caledonia.

“My neighbors don’t want this development and I have to support them,” said Wisch.

On the contrary, District 5 supervisor Jody Spencer said she spoke to affected voters and supported the Caledonia facility. The Spencer district borders the Caledonia site.

Robert Miller


Pete Wicklund

District 11 Supervisor Robert Miller emphasized that the center will not look or function like a typical prison, but rather like a “combination of school and clinic”. Miller’s District also includes parts of Mount Pleasant.

“I think we were all restless youngsters at one point, with problems, with difficulties, but most of us had strong adults who steered us in the right direction. This facility is for troubled teens who don’t have these adults, ”Miller said.

Delagrave said he saw both sides; There are “good reasons” to support or reject the Caledonia site.

“I know this elevator is heavy, and I know it is heavier for some than others,” said Delagrave. “The district is in a difficult situation. This is a mandatory service that we must offer, and how we offer it to our youth at risk shows us what kind of county we are, what we aspire to. “

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