Heather Johns has lived in a quiet neighborhood on the north side of Eau Claire for the past three years.
However, Johns, who lives on Kimberly Drive, is concerned about the safety of her three-year-old daughter, after learning that a home at nearby Jupiter Avenue may be considered for placing sex offenders who are transitioning back into society.
“When my daughter goes to school, she’ll walk right by that road,” Johns said. “I was shocked, because Sam Davey Elementary is less than a mile away. It’s a family neighborhood. When you drive by at 3 p.m., you can see how many kids walk by that road, and many walk right by the house. There are also moms that run in the area.”
Eau Claire County’s Supervised Release Committee is scheduled to meet in closed session Tuesday to discuss potential addresses for supervised release of sexually violent people.
The committee includes assistant corporation counsel Richard Eaton and human services director Diane Cable. Neither were available for comment Friday.
Sarah Gustafson of Eau Claire has children who go to Sam Davey, and she said the area around the Jupiter Street home is a bad location for this type of home for a sex offender.
“Every time you go there, there are a lot of kids running around in the area,” Gustafson said. “I don’t know why they would put it in an area that is so highly populated.”
Eau Claire County Board member Heather DeLuka said that a sex offender cannot live within 1,500 feet of a school, licensed child care facility, a place of worship, a park or a youth center. The police department delivered flyers to neighbors around the home beginning two weeks ago, DeLuka said. However, many people stated they never got a paper notice, or weren’t home when officers tried to contact them, she said.
However, DeLuka said a neighbor to the Jupiter Avenue home has a five-year-old son. Also, while it isn’t a licensed daycare, a woman at the end of the block watches several kids in her extended family.
DeLuka, who serves on the Eau Claire Airport Neighborhood Association, said she has heard multiple comments and concerns about the proposal.
“My association is blowing up,” DeLuka said. “We’re going to try and get signatures (over the weekend). I don’t know if we’ll get answers (at the meeting), but we can voice our concerns.”
DeLuka said she is fearful that more than one sex offender could wind up living in the home.
“This is a house that has two stories,” she explained. “You can tell it has two or three bedrooms upstairs. The police said (multiple offenders staying there) could potentially happen.”
DeLuka wondered if a director or monitor would then be hired to watch the house.
Johns said she is hopeful that people who attend the meeting can convince the committee to not move forward.
“It’s just scary,” Johns said. “We bought this house thinking it’s a safe neighborhood.”