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Commissioners identify site for new Allen County jail

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This story originally aired on Nov. 23.

The Allen County Commissioners selected 2911 Meyer Road as the property for the new county correctional center. The site is part of the storied International Harvester complex.

After a federal court ordered Allen County to fix the living conditions and overcrowding problem at its current jail, the Allen County Commissioners hired an architect to help them determine where the best location would be to build a new jail.

That architect surveyed and scored eight properties with the top scorer being 2911 Meyer Road because of its proximity to the Allen County Courthouse - 4.6 miles, access to utilities and room for expansion. Commissioner Therese Brown called it “the best site we could hope for.”

The original proposition to the commissioners called for the property at Adams Central and Paulding Roads to be the site for the new jail, but the opposition from the public got them to reconsider. Fort Wayne Democratic 6th District Councilwoman Sharon Tucker said that property was too close to school buildings and would “give our babies a pipeline to prison or jail.”

County Commissioner Rich Beck said the board heard the public and adapted.

“We did listen to the community,” Beck said. “Though it may not have been in the matrix, we heard the community loud and clear that Adams Center Road and Paulding was not the right spot.”

The Commissioners unanimously approved 2911 Meyer Road as the recommended site for the new jail, but not everyone agrees.

Help Not Handcuffs is an organization that led the opposition to the Adams Center and Paulding Roads location. Organizer Audrey Davis said Allen County should take a page from another community’s playbook.

“Bexar County, Texas created a care first jail last model,” Davis said. “They have a whole website that’s dedicated to helping other counties do this, and they have experts that can be hired.”

The County Commissioners will now wait for their attorney to negotiate a final price with the owner of the Meyer Road property. When asked if the board would look into other scored properties if the price comes back too high, Beck said, “No. We’re committed to this property.”

Tony Sandleben joined the WBOI News team in September of 2022.