It was a packed council chambers at Holyoke City Hall Tuesday night, as residents both for and against a new juvenile facility coming to town, came out to voice their opinion.
The program is called "Alternative Options" and it aims at providing education, treatment and recreation programs to reintroduce low-risk juveniles into society.
The facility would be built by Gandara Center. They already serve communities across the Pioneer Valley.
And now the center wants to build a new facility in the 'B' Wing of the Holyoke Geriatric Center.
Executive Director of the Gandara Center, Henry East-Trou said it would house up to 12 residents between the ages of 11 and 16, and they would stay at the facility for roughly two weeks.
"It's a real good program to get kids who are lower-offenders into programs that are not mingled with higher-offenders," said East-Trou.
The Gandara Center has already begun renovations on the wing for the new facility.
But a wide range in concerns were raised by residents, including the lack of notification by the city that the new facility was going to be built.
Resident Robin Roberts, who lives along Lower Westfield Road, where the facility would be stationed, said there's no place in her neighborhood for it.
"How safe is our community going to be?" said Roberts.
She said safety issues, along with property values, have her worried about the facility being built near her home.
"They say it's secured, but you can't guarantee anything 110 percent now-a-days," said Roberts.
Victor Rivera was once a participant of the program.
He said the residents have an opportunity to help change lives, like the program has changed his.
"It's great for them and the kids. If they can see what they can do for the kids, I think they would change their minds. If you could see my past and where I am now, my family is so proud of me." said Rivera.
The Holyoke City Council still has to vote on whether or not to lease the building to the Gandara Center.
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