Sharon residents speak out against inmate halfway house near school

SHARON, Pa. (WYTV) – A halfway house for inmates in Sharon is getting a lot of negative attention and Thursday night, concerned residents raised their voices.

One after another, Sharon residents stood up to express their concerns about the state’s halfway house.

The century-old mansion on W. State Street, which has housed sex offenders, is generating controversy in the community. The house that’s been there for almost 30 years is next to an elementary school and near four churches.

Victor Schumacher is from Hermitage, lives in Brookfield, and chose to have his business downtown. He said the people the house is bringing to the downtown area are not good for business.

“They wander about during the day, during our business hours. It kind of discourages customers in a way.”

Ted Miller talked about when they first brought the house to the city.

“The agreement was that there would be no sex offenders living there,” he said.

Just yards away from the school, sex offenders were living in the house last month. The state moved them out last week.

Council told the crowd they were open to hearing ideas.

“I’d like to see that beautiful building being used for something as an attraction, something a little bit more positive,” Schumacher said.

Miller wants it to be declared a historical site.

Ultimately, moving it would be up to the state or United Way, which owns the house.

Chief Gerald Smith and City Manager Bob Fiscus are meeting with the state department of corrections next week. They’re going to give representatives a tour of Sharon to show them what the city’s trying to accomplish in its revitalization efforts.

“We’re trying to educate them on what our community is about, and I think they’re receptive to talking with us and they’re receptive to hearing new ideas for the future,” Smith said.

Chief Smith said he heard sex offenders were placed at the house in Sharon because the state was in a tight position. Private halfway houses wouldn’t take sex offenders and the one on W. State Street is a state-run facility.

Smith said he now checks the national Megan’s Law registry, which requires sex offenders to register where they’re living, to see if any other offenders are staying at the halfway house. He encouraged residents to do the same.