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Retired planner living in Allouez provides vision for prison site

David Robillard, a retired strategic business, land, and facility planner living in Allouez, shares his vision for the Green Bay Correctional site on June 26, 2018. (Photo credit: WLUK)

ALLOUEZ, Wis. (WLUK) -- What could replace Green Bay Correctional Institution? One vision was shared Tuesday evening with Allouez residents.

Allouez administrators and elected officials have been pushing the idea of replacing the state prison as a way to put the property back on the tax rolls. They project development worth $80 million could be built on the 50-acre site, if a new prison were built somewhere else.

Allouez residents packed their village hall to hear from one of their own on what could potentially be built.

David Robillard is a retired strategic business, land, and facility planner who lives in Allouez. He volunteered his services to come up with a detailed conceptual plan for the prison site.

“I've designed numerous prisons around the country, greenfield sites, renovations for the Department of Homeland Security, for private, federal, county, state, and I know what prisons are all about,” said Robillard.

In Robillard's plan, the main prison building is the anchor. It is nationally recognized as a historic building and must stay. Robillard envisions part of the building be used like a museum to show the history of the prison. He suggests repurposing other parts for retail or restaurant uses, similar to a mall concept.

All the orange buildings on the plan are new developments, ranging from condos and apartments to a boutique hotel and public event center. A central park stretches across the middle of the site, from Webster Avenue to the Fox River Trail.

“It's very realistic,” said Robillard. “We just brainstormed and the list was fairly extensive.”

“We didn't plan to have a plan this detailed,” said Jim Rafter, Allouez Village President. “We were just going for high-level numbers to help in the whole effect when the governor and state legislators start talking about it in the fall and, David, say you have to go through the planning process.”

At first glance, residents say the plan is much better than the prison.

“It's a gorgeous piece of property that holds a lot of potential that is being used as a prison,” said Rich Leick of Allouez.

It was stressed at the gathering that Robillard’s plan is only one vision for what could go at the prison site.

More importantly, those who are on board with the ideas were encouraged to try to convince those at the state level that something needs to happen.

“They are paying attention to what is happening tonight and this summer in Allouez, as they are beginning to make decisions,” said State Rep. David Steffen, R-Howard.

Decisions will likely start coming after a $660,000 study on the state's correctional facilities is completed. It's expected to be done in October.

A petition is being circulated to show support for a new prison. A potential site for it has not been picked.

An effort to put a new prison in the current state budget failed.

According to Steffen, the current prison will need about $200 million in repairs over the next 10 years.

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