A heated meeting in North East Thursday night as Granite Ridge officials held a “Q and A session” about the possibility of the former Mercyhurst North East campus being used to house unaccompanied migrant children.

Company officials wouldn’t allow cameras inside the meeting, but the community didn’t like the answers they were given. 

Tempers flared as hundreds of North East residents and elected officials confronted Granite Ridge representatives about the possibility of campus housing unaccompanied migrant children.

“People could come in and enjoy the campus itself. They could walk around, enjoy the campus, do fireworks here, things like that. Once we add the migrants, will that continue to happen?” said Michael Yori, a North East business owner.

Granite Ridge officials said nothing has been set in stone, but the campus could soon become what they’re calling an influx care facility which would require a fence around the property.

Company officials said they would likely use a closed mesh fence, that you can’t see in, or out.  

“It’s going to look terrible. It’s going to drop the property values of the houses that are around it. Who wants to live next to this fence that you can’t even see through?” said Heather Jones, a North East Borough council member.

Speaking of transparency, it’s been a huge issue for the community as one borough council member adds.

She said Granite Ridge claims to have established good relations with local elected officials, but she said that’s not at all the case.

“Nobody talked to anyone from this facility. So, I asked the question so I could get an answer, but as you’d seen, they could not give me an answer and wanted to beat around the bush,” Jones said.

If things develop at Granite Ridge, company officials said children ages zero to 17 would be taken in for no more than 30 days at a time and be monitored 24/7 by unarmed security.

“I think we need this. I think we need to do this bi-weekly, monthly, or whenever information presents itself. I think that voices were heard,” said Bill Unger, director of special properties for Ehrenfeld companies.

Company officials added Granite Ridge would be a good fit because the government prefers facilities close to the border. 

Unger said that the community has shown support for one-time events at Granite Ridge, but have disagreed with longer term usage plans.