New Castle News

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August 27, 2008

Halfway house neighbors offer comments

Some New Brighton neighbors of a halfway house for state prison parolees don’t worry anymore but others remain uncomfortable.

“We had some apprehensions about it,” said Tom Weyand, who lives near Penn Pavilion that serves about 100 male parolees. “But I don’t think we have an issue.”

After he and his wife, Pat, attend weekday morning Mass, he drives to work and she walks home at the same time Penn Pavilion residents are on their way to work.

She said they speak as they pass her, “say hello, but I haven’t had any problems.”

Her neighbor Angela Grossetti feels differently. She has five children ages 3 though 13. To her, Penn Pavilion’s presence is “not the most positive thing.”

Although she has never had a negative experience in eight years living there, Grossetti said her advice to Wayne Township residents is, “Don’t let it into your community.”

Wayne residents are fighting to stop Phoenix House, a proposed 200-bed, multimillion-dollar halfway house. The planned counseling and work release programs are similar to those at Penn Pavilion, aimed at helping offenders change destructive thinking and behavior patterns before they re-enter society.

Kacey Coulter, Grossetti’s neighbor, also has had no personal run-ins with inmates. The women don’t fear “walk-aways” either, knowing their goal is to leave the area.

What does concern them is the pick-up and drop-off pattern of some parolees.

The facility “has a circular drive in front,” Grossetti said. “They’re not supposed to get rides from others; it’s absolutely suspicious. I’m worried about their bringing their element in.”

Coulter said she has seen Penn residents being dropped off then walking to the entrance as though “they’d walked the whole way.”

Bill Palatucci, senior vice president of Community Education Centers that operates Penn Pavilion, said the facility has an advisory board of local officials and residents. The women said they did not know about the board.

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