The operator of the Mesa Verde immigration detention center on Golden State Avenue confirmed Thursday it will buy and bulldoze the nearby Bakersfield Dome events venue and El Morocco Motel, but denied the purchases are part of any plan to expand the federal holding facility.

Boca Raton, Florida-based The GEO Group Inc.'s intention in buying the properties by V and 22nd streets is to create a safe and secure buffer around Mesa Verde, Executive Vice President of Corporate Relations Pablo E. Paez said by email.

"The purchase and demolition of these sites will eliminate those security and safety concerns and create a secure buffer between the Mesa Verde Facility and the rest of the surrounding neighborhood," Paez wrote. "We would reiterate that there are no plans to expand the Mesa Verde facility."

Questions about a possible expansion of Mesa Verde arose after The Dome's owner, Chencho Madera, said Tuesday he is in escrow to sell the property to GEO as part of a plan to expand the detention facility. Paez's email Thursday appears to be the company's first public statement on the purchase.

The Dome and the motel are located next to Mesa Verde, which since reopening in 2013 has served as a secure processing center for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. An ICE spokesman said Tuesday he had no information about an expansion of the facility.

While El Morocco continues to operate as a motel, Madera said The Dome will no longer host boxing, wrestling or other entertainment events, as it had since opening in the early 1940s.

How easy it will be for GEO to level The Dome remains to be seen, given the building's novel architecture and local significance. Bakersfield's development services director, Jacqui Kitchen, said Tuesday she was uncertain whether the building has some sort of historical designation that might complicate demolition plans.

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf.

(3) comments

Fram Smith

Would you like to make 34% return on your investment? Then we need to talk about if investing in private baby prisons is right for you! GEO is on the cutting edge of for profit private baby prisons. Do not miss the opportunity of a lifetime. CREATE YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE...INVEST IN GEO YOUR LEADER IN PRIVATE BABY PRISONS.

Stephen

Corporate execs in Florida most likely don't give a rat about our culture or history. As for the need for their expressed need for; "safe and secure buffer around Mesa Verde (immigration detention center)" is there any evidence the sort of people they are housing there are some sort of threat that need this sort of so-called security?

We know President Trump has often Tweeted all sorts of disparaging descriptions of who he believes the immigrants are, (rapists, murderers, etc.) but, considering available evidence, do we really need to take those claims seriously? We really need to base our decisions on better information than just what ever pleases the president's political base. Considering what's at stake, these decisions need to be made based on real information and a demonstrated need.

Under our local ordinances The Dome, a.k.a. Strelich Stadium, well over 50 years old, qualifies for local historic designation under the provisions of the following from our local ordinance:

A. that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history, or

B. that are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past
or

C. that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type
period or method of construction.

This expressed need for security appears to reflect more an accommodation to the fiction about who is being housed at that facility rather than any real need. Considering the lack of evidence for a need for this so-called "safe and secure buffer" we need to contact our local city council members to oppose this proposed demolition.

Stephen

Corporate execs in Florida most likely don't give a rat about our culture or history. As for the need for their expressed need for; "safe and secure buffer around Mesa Verde (immigration detention center)" is there any evidence the sort of people they are housing there are some sort of threat that need this sort of so-called security?

We know President Trump has often Tweeted all sorts of disparaging descriptions of who he believes the immigrants are, (rapists, murderers, etc.) but, considering available evidence, do we really need to take those claims seriously? We really need to base our decisions on better information than just what ever pleases the president's political base. Considering what's at stake, these decisions need to be made based on real information and a demonstrated need.

Under our local ordinances The Dome, a.k.a. Strelich Stadium, well over 50 years old, qualifies for local historic designation under the provisions of the following from our local ordinance:

A. that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history, or
B. that are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past
or
C. that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type
period or method of construction.

This expressed need for security appears to reflect more an accommodation to the fiction about who is being housed at that facility rather than any real need. Considering the lack of evidence for a need for this so-called "safe and secure buffer" we need to contact our local city council members to oppose this proposed demolition.

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