Stalled halfway house project has Jackson County legislators concerned

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BLUE SUMMIT, Mo. — Plans for a halfway house in Blue Summit have gone nowhere in the year since Jackson County legislators approved it.

Some say instead of being redeveloped, the former Stark School has become a breeding ground for crime.

Since the county turned over control of the site to a private firm, it’s been left unsecured, with open doors and windows that have attracted drug users and other trouble makers.

A California firm received approval last year to turn the school building into a halfway house for federal prisoners. Non-violent offenders at the end of their sentences would transition back to society from the center.

But no work has begun to refurbish the building, and county legislators says there’s been no communication about whether the private company even has a contract with the federal Bureau of Prisons.

“Just secure it,” said Tony Miller, a Jackson County legislator from Lee’s Summit, Mo. “If you need just a little bit of time to get your financing together or whatever it is that’s holding the project up, we want to see you succeed. We all need you to succeed. But right now this is not working.

We’ve got to have it secured. We can’t have people coming in and out of here. We can’t have crime and who knows what’s going on in there.”

Another legislator says he’s received complaints of packs of wild dogs and dog fighting on the property, which is in an unincorporated area of Jackson County.

Miller says he’s learned the private company may have to complete another project before getting funding for this one.

Still, he says folks in Blue Summit deserve to know what’s going on.

Some legislators say the experience shows them that a public-private partnership may not be the best solution when it comes to solving Jackson County’s jail space issues.

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