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Citizens call for justice center transparency

Posted at 5:16 PM, Jul 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-31 18:33:31-04

Community activists and citizens are calling for more transparency when it comes to the proposed Juvenile Justice Center in Downtown Omaha.

Tuesday morning a handful of people used the public comment portion of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners Meeting to talk about the subject.  They want the board to be more open with the specifics of the proposed $120 million project that would be located between 18th and 19th Streets and between Howard and Harney Streets.  It would house the youth center and juvenile court proceedings.

"The public has not had any sort of engagement in the process of planning a new juvenile justice center and we haven't had explanations that are satisfactory from the commissioners on why we need this particular site, why we need to spend $120 million dollars on the site, and how this is going to serve the community and better the youth at the detention center," said Brian Smith a community activist.

Smith organized a meeting on Monday evening to gather input and more than 50 people showed up including Commissioner Jim Cavanaugh.

Commissioners have said that the courthouse is full and more space is needed.

Cavanaugh has been critical of the plan, why there hasn't been more public input, and indicates there should be a public vote.  He is holding a public meeting on Thursday August 2 at the Legislative Chambers in City Hall at 1pm.