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Davenport City Council passes resolution against Scott County's planned juvenile detention center location

The Scott County Board of Supervisors wants to build the center on 4th & Warren in Davenport. But city leaders say it would hurt an already struggling part of town.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Davenport city leaders have joined a growing number of voices in opposition of a new juvenile detention center on the city's west side.

On Wednesday, Dec. 8, city councilmen unanimously passed a resolution against the proposed location. Written by 3rd Ward Alderman Marion Meginnis and Alderman At-Large Kyle Gripp, the resolution alleges building the center at 500 West 4th St. would disproportionately impact the surrounding neighborhoods. 

The resolution states that area of Davenport is home to urban, diverse neighborhoods where many residents already struggle with poverty, crime and housing issues. After seeing a rapid increase in growth in the city's downtown area, thanks to recent investments, leaders say the next part of town with growth opportunity is the west side. 

Part of the resolution states, "Removing half a city block as a source of property and sales tax revenue negates that opportunity. New businesses, shops, or restaurants will not locate next to a detention center." 

Additionally, it sites transportation issues, higher operating costs and transparency grievances. 

The plans for a new Youth Justice & Rehabilitation Center are being led by the Scott County Board of Supervisors. It would include 40 beds with the potential for growth up to 60. 

Right now, the detention center houses 16 beds. 

The current space for young people is not big enough to deal with Covid precautions and earlier this fall, Juvenile Detention Center Director Jeremy Kaiser reported as many as 13 juveniles were being held at the Scott County Jail to accommodate for the lack of space. 

In recent months, the plans for the new location have been met with local pushback, as well as calls for reconsideration from the NAACP

The passing of Wednesday night's resolution doesn't carry any legal consequences, since the city is not in charge of choosing a location for the center. In fact, the county could decide to build on West 4th and Warren Street in spite of it.

But aldermen say it sends a message to the county that the city does not support the plan. 3rd Ward's Meginnis told News 8 she doesn't think Davenport has passed similar opposition-resolutions since she first took office in 2017. 

"It is rare that the city council would step forward and speak against something that another governing body is doing," she said. "The city has really no say in it, they have no right to approve or disapprove. But a resolution from a governing body is a pretty strong message." 

While Meginnis acknowledged the lack of space at the current center, she pointed out the millions of dollars that have been poured into Davenport's downtown, and what could also happen on the west side. 

"The next logical place is moving west. And there are conversations about that, that this is a prime piece of real estate that's been paying property taxes and sales tax. So to have this go to no longer being a tax-based block is frustrating." 

She questioned if people put detention centers in downtowns, then answered her own query: no. Additionally, she pointed out the over $9 million in American Rescue Act Funds that the city is investing in the Youth Assessment Program, as well as other programs meant to deter youth violence.  

"I think the city is certainly engaging in many areas of how we teach and reach out to youth," said Meginnis. "We'd rather work with the county and find a place, if they're going to build this, that is appropriate and non in our older heritage neighborhoods south of Locust where most people who are who have disadvantages live. We don't think that's appropriate." 

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