- Associated Press - Monday, April 14, 2014

HOBART, Ind. (AP) - A Florida-based operator of privately owned prisons and detention centers remains interested in northwestern Indiana despite one city telling it to look elsewhere, a spokesman said Monday.

The GEO Group wants to continue meeting with the Hobart community about possible opportunities, spokesman Pablo Paez said in a statement issued a day after Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor told a community group opposed to the company that GEO Group it isn’t welcome in the city.

“Northwest Indiana’s strong transportation network, strong business climate and well-trained workforce are great assets that make it an attractive place in which to operate,” Paez said.

The (Munster) Times and the Post-Tribune report the company last November bought 40 acres in Hobart, about 6 miles southeast of Gary, but hasn’t released any details about its plans for the site.

GEO has said it wants to build an immigration holding center at the site but it has not filed to rezone the property. There’s no current formal proposal from the federal government for any such facility in the region.

Snedecor told a gathering of the Concerned Citizens of Hobart on Sunday that the city recently took steps to inform GEO of its duty to demolish or remedy the “deplorable condition” of a building on the land that it purchased.

“The uncertainty of your intentions coupled with your failure to engage our community has led to a loss of confidence in GEO,” Snedecor wrote.

Loy Roberson, who lives near the site, said it sits next to a park and a senior citizen residential complex.

“You want to say this is a good place to put a prison?” Roberson said. “I don’t think so.”

Boca Raton, Fla.-based GEO manages 98 correctional, detention, and community re-entry facilities with approximately 77,000 beds and more than 60 non-residential service centers.

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