CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Low-risk inmates recovering from addiction could be moving from Springfield to Chicopee.
The Western Massachusetts Correctional Alcohol Center in Springfield has been struggling to find a new location for its inmates. It’s Howard Street Location is within the MGM Casino footprint in the city’s South End. MGM bought the space the state leased on Howard Street for the correctional facility in December.
They were supposed to out by March 31st, and MGM extended their eviction deadline to May 1st. Now it looks like they’ll be heading to Chicopee.
“I’m just pleased to say that right now I am exploring things with Mayor Kos,” said Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe. “We see ourselves, if you will, bringing security and safety and a sense of that to the neighborhood.”
Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos suggested the Econolodge as temporary housing for the program’s 182 inmates recovering from addiction. “I think it’s an enhancement. I think it’s a great use of the facility that’s really at times been a concern to neighbors. I think this is really a positive step,” Kos told 22News.
However, 22News did find some potential problems with the site. There are 17 homeless families living at the Econolodge and the issue is if these inmates were to move in, the families would have to move out.
The Mayor said the state would work to relocate the families that are there now, but they don’t think that’s fair.
“We were here first and we should be first priority. Maybe some of us are domestic violence victims, or we’re in hiding, and they’re trying to bring all these people here,” said Nicole Moya, an Econolodge resident.
There’s another issue: the hotel is attached to a bar. Not an ideal situation for recovering addicts. Although the mayor’s office said there’s a good chance the bar would close if the inmates move in.
This is not a done deal. Mayor Kos and Sheriff Ashe are still negotiating with the Econolodge. We’ll bring you any new updates as soon as we have them.