State plans to move probation offices to north of City Hall
Published: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 6:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 6:43 p.m.
The state plans to move its downtown probation offices to a building north of City Hall.
The application to locate Department of Corrections probation offices at 217 NE First St. is scheduled to go to the City Plan Board on Thursday.
The city-owned building was once a law office. Later, it housed the police department’s detective division.
The state will take ownership of the property as part of a planned, but not yet consummated, land swap with the city.
It’s part of a two-step deal that has the city taking ownership of the shuttered Gainesville Correctional Institution on Northeast 39th Avenue for the location of a long-planned homeless shelter and assistance center.
The first step has the city paying $753,000 for 28 acres of the property, including $53,000 in closing costs.
The second step is the land swap. It includes the state taking ownership of the building eyed for the probation offices, and the city taking additional facilities at the closed prison, such as the medical building, gatehouse, administration building and parking lot.
The Department of Corrections has had probation offices downtown for about 20 years, according to a report by city staff.
The offices were above Harry’s Seafood from October 1993 to December 2012 and are now at 215 SE Second Ave.
Hours for the offices are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and they see 70 to 100 offenders each day.
Those offenders include former inmates who were released on parole or on conditional release; those on court-ordered supervision; those on pretrial intervention; and those on drug-offender probation.
Sex offenders who are on probation report to the offices from court, but they don’t conduct their monthly probation reporting there, according to information relayed during a neighborhood workshop on the application.
The probation offices are adjacent to the Historic Duckpond Neighborhood. Some neighborhood residents expressed opposition to the application during the June 3 neighborhood workshop and in letters to the City Plan Board.
The board of directors for the Regents Park Condominium Association submitted a letter of opposition that included concerns about lower property values and increased crime rates.
City staff has recommended approval, saying, among other things, that probation offices are already present in the downtown area.
The City Plan Board’s meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 200 E. University Ave.