Smith County Residents Unite To Keep Jail Out Of Their Neighborhood - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/13/06-Smith County

Smith County Residents Unite To Keep Jail Out Of Their Neighborhood

  Not in our neighborhood. That's the message from folks who live near a proposed site for the Smith County jail. Last week, county commissioners voted to start negotiations to buy land on County Road 378, also known as American Legion Road and County Road 381. That is a little more than three miles Northeast of downtown Tyler, just outside Loop 323. Those that live around there say they are furious. To them it's not a remote area.

  Martha Welch has lived in this neighborhood almost 50 years. Reverend Benjamin Horne build his house out here just three years ago. Today, they gave us a tour of an area, they say is growing. Right across the street from the proposed jail site lives a family with small children.

 "They would be facing this jail and they can't sit out in the yard without looking at this," said Welch. "This is part of it that's really developing. A little further you go down, you're going to see some of the most beautiful homes that you've ever seen." Within a few miles of the jail site, we saw hundreds of homes. These residents say they have several concerns.

  "We have a very good response with the sheriff's department out here," said Horne. "We've heard people say crime would go down, but a jail is not going to prevent crime. It's not going to add anymore patrol men or anything."

"Our concerns are our roads and our neighborhood," said Welch. "We have children that walk the streets at night, teenagers. They could be abducted by these people coming out here to visit their inmates." They want to know, why their neighborhood?

"What about some of the other precincts?," said Horne. "I mean some of the precincts in the South. It's time for them to take some of the risk that the rest of us have to take in the county. All of the risk sights come to the North and the growth that benefits the community goes to the South and I don't understand. We are fed up with it."

The concerned residents have set up a neighborhood meeting to discuss how the jail will impact the area. It's Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. at Fellowship Baptist Church in Tyler. That's on Jimmy Street, which is just off Morningside Drive. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Molly Reuter, reporting.

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