Emerald abandons Caldwell County project
By LPR Staff
Emerald Correctional Management representatives announced Friday that the company has abandoned plans to build a 1,000-bed deportation facility in Caldwell County.
After a Thursday evening public meeting ended with hostile words, Emerald Correctional representative Mike Moore confirmed plans for the facility have been sc
“We don”t go where we aren”t wanted,” Moore said Friday afternoon. “The residents made it clear they don”t want the facility.”
Lytton Springs and Dale representatives were given the chance to express their concerns during a “town hall” meeting called by Precinct Four Commissioner Joe Roland, and none of the 150 or so residents at the meeting were in support of the project.
As the meeting opened, Roland asked the community to allow Moore to make the same presentation he made to the Caldwell County Commissioners during their Dec. 17 meeting, and to reserve their questions until he was finished.
The attendees of the meeting, it seemed, had other ideas.
As Moore began explaining the construction of the facility on the nearly 350-acre tract for which Emerald has been negotiating a sale, area residents began firing questions.
“Are the inmates going to be violent criminals?”
“What happens if the facility doesn”t fill up?”
“Will their violent criminal friends visit them?”
“You want us to put buses full of criminals on the same roads with buses full of our children?”
Before Moore could address one question, another came his way, each angrier than the first.
Several times, attendees tried to break through the din.
“Does anyone here want this facility,” Don Brewer asked once, raising his voice over his neighbors. No one raised a hand. “Okay. We”re all against it, but we wanted him to come here and make this presentation. So let him finish talking, and then we can all go home and watch the game.”
After Brewer”s suggestion, cooler heads prevailed – for a moment. However, chaos once again took over, and finally, Moore abandoned the presentation altogether.
On Friday morning, Roland expressed some disappointment about the final outcome of the meeting.
“Jails are always a hard sell,” he said. “We knew it was going to be, and we knew that the neighbors were against it. I just wish they”d given [Moore] the opportunity to make his presentation.”
Roland said several attendees had approached him after the meeting to let him know that, although they were opposed to the project, they had hoped to hear what Moore had to say.
Peggy McConnell, who owns the subject property and has been working through a Realtor to negotiate the sale, did not attend the meeting. Reached for comment on Friday afternoon, she said she had been out of town, and was unaware the meeting was taking place.
“Of course, I would have liked to sell the property,” she said. “And I can”t really say anything else about it. I didn”t know anything about the meeting, though, and I would have liked to have been there to hear what [Moore and the neighbors] had to say.”
Both Roland and Moore suggested in the very near future, Roland would introduce a motion to the Caldwell County Commissioners” Court to stop discussion of the project. However, Moore confirmed that, regardless of the Court”s decision, the project will not go forward.
“The property we were negotiating was the perfect location for the facility,” he said. “There is no other location that would be as fitting for an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility. At this point, we”ve decided that we won”t pursue it.”