Schuylkill County officials are currently looking at the possibility of locating a prison pre-release center at the site of the former GIANT supermarket in downtown Pottsville.
The Canary learned Thursday that Schuylkill County is having the 2.1-acre property along Progress Avenue in Pottsville assessed before it considers purchasing the property from The GIANT Company.
GIANT closed its doors to customers for the final time on July 9 after 37 years in business.
Schuylkill County Considering Former GIANT Supermarket for Prison Pre-Release Center
The former supermarket makes the second potential location for a prison pre-release center that Schuylkill County has long desired. The County has been looking to build or open a pre-release center for about 20 years.
Schuylkill County Prison is routinely overcrowded and the county spends endless sums of money transporting and housing its inmates at other county lockups. We all foot the bill when these inmates are transferred to and from Schuylkill County Prison.
Another potential location, according to our sources, is the soon-to-be former Schuylkill Transportation System depot in the Saint Clair Industrial Park. Land clearing is currently underway at the former Quirin manufacturing facility along Route 61 near Saint Clair. That’s where the county is planning to put a new STS depot.
Should the County go forward with this latest potential site for that prison pre-release center, it’s difficult to determine how much it’d spend for the former supermarket property.
This is what we found for a sales history on the GIANT property at the Schuylkill County Parcel Locator (Map Viewer):
Just like the County didn’t say boo prior to announcing plans for the new STS depot in Saint Clair, we don’t expect to hear anything from the County on a potential pre-release center until the ink is dry on the deal.
Not Part of the Plan
Building and opening a prison pre-release center in the middle of downtown Pottsville, if it were to be at the former supermarket property, surely would mar any efforts to revitalize the area. Of course, putting it in an active and busy industrial park doesn’t seem like a smart move, either.
While the county will likely try to tout a prison pre-release facility as safe, it’s not uncommon for residents at these facilities to simply walk away. That’s not saying it definitely would happen at a potential Schuylkill County Pre-release Center, but the chance is there and putting such a facility in the middle of a downtown that’s trying to make an economic recovery doesn’t make much sense.
A prison would be last on a list of “Things Pottsville Needs” to make a comeback.
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