Two Cookeville City Council members spoke against the expansion of the Putnam County Jail Monday night.
Council members Mark Miller and Laurin Wheaton said the decision could cause irreversible effects on the downtown. The comments came some six months after commissioners first voted on moving forward with expansion.
“We’re not going to get high-end development there, $300,000 or $400,000 town homes will not be ever on our property taxes,” Miller said. “If we had mixed use there, we would never get the sales tax off of this.”
Wheaton said she worried about the impact on an 800-bed jail so close to Capshaw Elementary School.
“This elementary school where children play on a playground less than a thousand feet from the jail,” Wheaton said.
Saying she hoped at the very least the county would agree not to expand again on this property, she would like to know what plans have been made to buffer the neighborhood to the south of the development.
Wheaton said she would like to know more about the options the county explored with the project before making the decision to stay downtown.
Commissioner Jonathan Williams suggested a joint work session with council members on the jail expansion plans
“I would like to see some type of joint committee where councilmen and commissioners can work together with the Sheriff’s Department to find out if we’ve exhausted all of our opportunities before we put this band-aid on the expansion,” Wheaton said. “I understand that would be courtesy. The county nor the Sheriff’s Department has to do that.”