County OK’s $50K to study old jail renovation

Estimated construction cost of $1.4M to come from leftover bond proceeds

A contractor has been chosen to conduct a study of what it will take, and how much it will cost, to reopen the county’s “old jail” which was shuttered in 2003 when a newer, much larger facility was opened.

Now, some 10 years later, the new jail has at times reached 75 percent of its capacity, sending county officials on a quest to decide what to do next.

County Administrator Steve Rapson said it appears it will cost about $1.4 million to get the old jail back up and running, and Fayette County Sheriff Barry Babb has pledged to staff it without a commensurate increase in his budget.

The contractor selected for the old jail review was Gleeds USA at a cost of $50,675. The funds, along with the construction funds at a later date, will come from leftover monies from the jail expansion and justice center project, officials have said.

The renovation will increase the county’s capacity by about 150 inmates. Rapson says it also give the county its best bang for the buck compared to adding a new pod to the jail which would house more than 232 inmates.

“Renovating the existing old jail will provide the sheriff with additional options for inmate management that is limited in today’s environment,” Rapson said in a memo to commissioners in advance of the meeting.

In that memo, Rapson noted that crowding at the jail could compromise the safety of inmates and jail staff.

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