Fairchild residents came out in force Tuesday to share their objections to a plan to potentially house released sexual predators in the community.
Nearly 40 Fairchild area residents packed into a small meeting room Tuesday morning at the Eau Claire County Courthouse to express their outrage at the possibility of housing sex offenders on supervised release at a facility on county-owned land about 1¼ miles northwest of Fairchild. Their comments came during a meeting of Eau Claire County’s Supervised Release Committee, which is tasked with identifying a housing option for someone once deemed a sexually violent person.
“It’s a recipe for disaster,” said Fairchild resident Cathy Weiss, who lives near the potential location.
Several Fairchild residents argued the proposed site, on U.S. 12 near Oak Lane in the town of Fairchild, is inappropriate for such a placement, in part because it is surrounded by woods and has a slow-moving train that regularly goes by the property, providing both cover and an easy means of escape for an offender living there.
“My personal opinion is you couldn’t create a better flight risk if you tried,” said Todd Meyer, chairman of the Fairchild Town Board, adding that he just learned about the proposal last week.
Meyer said Tuesday’s public comments represented just a fraction of the indignation he has heard from residents since news of the proposal started to make its way around the community last week and then became well known after a story in Saturday’s Leader-Telegram.
The concerns center around safety and the potential negative impact on property values and the village’s ability to attract more residents and services.
Rick Eaton, assistant corporation counsel for the county and chairman of the Supervised Release Committee, emphasized that no final decision has been made about where to house a sex offender scheduled for supervised release.
“There’s obviously a concern, and I understand that concern. I have kids,” Eaton said. “Nobody’s going to want a sex offender living on the property next door to them.”