Old juvenile hall still an eyesore

Across the parking lot from the new, $150 million Youth Services Center is the former juvenile hall — a brown, two-story building surrounded by weeds and a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire.

When officials celebrated the opening of the new facility at 222 Paul Scannell Drive in September 2006, there were plans to demolish the 58-year-old cinder-block building and replace it with a garden where youths could possibly grow produce to sell at local farmers markets.

Residents were told this would happen within a year of its closure, according to Cary Weist, president of the Highlands Community Association, a neighborhood of million-dollar homes that sits adjacent to the juvenile detention facility.

“A garden would be beautiful,” he said. “And maybe something that the kids and youth services could work on.”

But three years later, those plans have not moved forward — much to the dismay of neighbors.

“It’s frustrating,” Weist said. “Government doesn’t move as fast as we’d like.”

Additionally, residents were told that the 20-foot berms — mounds of dirt that separate the homes along Allegheny Way from the juvenile facility, but also obstruct the view of the surrounding area — would be reduced in size.

Ed Carlson, another Highlands neighborhood resident, said the county had broken its promises.

“It’s not unfortunate, its criminal,” he said. “They should be doing what they said they were going to do.”

Deconstruction plans are ready to begin, according to San Mateo County Public Works Director Jim Porter.

“We’ve always had a schedule,” he said. “It’s just a little more complicated and takes a little more time than people like.”

The county will seek bids for the deconstruction work, where contractors enter the building and dismantle all reusable parts, in December, according to Porter. Once the inside is deconstructed, a demolition team can take down the building.

After the facility is removed, the berms will be reduced in size and shaped into a more natural landscape to mimic the rolling hills of the area, he said, adding that the entire process will take nearly 18 months.

Weist, however, said he’s skeptical of the time frame.

“We’ll see,” he said. “They said they were going to do this, but they haven’t been communicating to the community why there’s a delay.”

Porter said he was not aware of the county’s final plans for the site.

Still standing

Demolition of the county’s old juvenile hall has been delayed.

New facility

  • Name: Youth Services Center
  • Location: 222 Paul Scannell Drive
  • Opened: 2006
  • Age: 3 years old
  • Cost: $150 million

Old facility

  • Name: Hillcrest Juvenile Hall*
  • Location: 21 Tower Road
  • Closed: In 2006
  • Age: 58 years old

* Has not yet been demolished, to neighbors’ dismay
 

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