10/07/13 — County to study details of plan for jail

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County to study details of plan for jail

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 7, 2013 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners are seeking proposals for a feasibility study to convert the former Wayne Correctional Center to house the Sheriff's Office and county jail.

Also, part of the study is a review of the use of the existing jail and the Sheriff's Office Annex.

The study could cost between $70,000 and $100,0000.

The request for qualifications is not an advertisement for bids. Once companies reply, commissioners have the option of rejecting any or all of the responses. They can interview one or all of the companies before entering a contract and negotiating the cost to conduct the study.

The document commissioners approved also included a provision added after the county's Detention Center Advisory Board had come up with the original version.

The change was the result of the board's recent tour of the closed prison unit on Stevens Mill Road near Cherry Hospital.

"Basically, the change is to ask that whoever gets this to give you information to tell you how you should ask your legislators to change the rules about jails so that you won't have to do as much with that facility as you would under the current rules," County Attorney Borden Parker said.

Sheriff Carey Winders has told commissioners that the county should not expect just to be able to move into the facility. It must first be renovated to meet state jail standards, he said.

Other goals of the study are to determine the county's jail needs over the next 25 years and too determine whether personnel and offices now at the annex possibly could be relocated to the prison site.

The requests were sent by mail, as well as electronically. The information also will be posted on the county website and advertised in two newspapers. Chairman Steve Keen suggested advertising in the Charlotte Observer as well.

Responses to the request for qualifications must be submitted by the end of October.

County Purchasing Manager Noelle Woods said she and Winders compiled a vendors list of companies with experience in jail construction.

Commissioner John Bell, chairman of the Detention Center Advisory Board, made the motion to approve the document. It was unanimously approved.

Wayne Correctional Center closed because of state budget cuts. Commissioners have gathered support from local legislators to have the state convey the property to the county.

Chronic overcrowding at the county jail is costing the county more than $1 annually to hose inmates in other counties.

Commissioners have been looking options other than building a new $60-$70 million jail.

Renovating the 428-bed prison will cost considerably less than building a new jail, Detention Center Advisory Board members said.

Along with solving the problem of overcrowding, the larger facility could create revenue by allowing the county to house inmates from other counties, as well as state and federal inmates.