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United Way of Lancaster County


Tonight’s correctional facility ‘listening session’ may offer more interaction than predecessors

Inset in an aerial view of the new correctional facility site, Warden Cheryl Steberger (fourth from right) and members of the TranSystems design team engage with the public during a listening session in October 2023. (Source: OUL file photos)

The team designing Lancaster County’s new correctional facility will be more open to answering questions during public listening sessions like the one coming up this evening, county officials said.

At the December Prison Board meeting, the Rev. Jason Perkowski, a member of Power Interfaith, requested a more “interactive” format for the sessions. At the three held to date (first | second | third), County Prison officials and design professionals have made presentations and listened to public comment, but in general have not responded directly to comments or answered questions.

There’s a good reason for their cautiousness, Commissioner Josh Parsons said at Tuesday morning’s work session. It’s crucial that nothing at the listening sessions be perceived as constituting deliberation or decision-making, as those activities are limited under the Sunshine Law to Prison Board and Board of Commissioners meetings.

Warden Cheryl Steberger and county Purchasing Director Linda Schreiner have discussed what’s possible, he said, and the team will try to be more flexible in responding to comments.

Questions seeking clarification should be answerable, Commissioner Ray D’Agostino said. Commissioner Alice Yoder said that as the project advances, more interactive formats will become feasible. She added that she is committed to meeting with local experts and individuals who interact with the County Prison: That is, the listening sessions are not the only source of public input.

This evening’s session follows the release of a draft “program” (PDF) for the correctional facility, which roughs out square footage allocations for prison functions and relates the spaces to each other. Individuals who want to offer input should familiarize themselves with the draft and use it as a starting point for their comments, officials have recommended.

It and other materials are available on the project website.