Knoxville community concerned over proposed safety center

Homeowners are concerned about the proposed location for the center.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A community is upset over a plan to build a behavior health care center in their neighborhood. Knox County hopes to build this facility right next to the Helen Ross McNabb Center on Western Avenue. Homeowners expressed their concerns at a community meeting. Most were bothered by its proposed location.

“Put it somewhere where it is not going to affect families, churches, daycares,” said Jeff Guinn, who lives close to the property.

Guinn and many others worry about their safety, if this center is approved.

“You’ve got unstable people, whether it is mental issues or addiction issues,” said Guinn.

Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones tried to calm those nerves. He said people coming to this facility would be non-violent offenders, like those guilty of trespassing or panhandling. He said there would also be security there 24/7.

“I can assure you no criminals are going to be running lose in this community,” said Jones.

Guinn said the facility just needs to move because right now, it is across the street from some homes. However, others, like Donna Towe, have no concerns. Towe’s daughter was bipolar and recently passed away.

“Our whole family loving her and supporting her but not knowing where to turn,” she said. “I at some point had to protect my other son from this illness. It was so scary.”

She felt did didn’t have any place to take her daughter to get help. She said jails are filled with people like her daughter and that is not the place to take them.

Project planners and city leaders said people would receive care for three days. The center would be able to help 24 people at a time. The Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission plans to meet next week to talk about the proposed project.

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