A corner of the former Jeep plant site would “probably rank pretty high” in an analysis for potential locations for a new Lucas County jail, but the selection process is just beginning, a top county official told a Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority committee Tuesday morning.
“We’ve got to start somewhere, we just came to you first,” Pete Gerken, a Lucas County commissioner, told the port directors’ facilities and development committee toward the end of a presentation he, Sheriff John Tharp, and several county consultants made to the committee.
Andrew Cupples, an architect and a justice and civic design leader with DLR Group of Santa Monica, Calif., said the county and project designers are looking for a site of at least 10 acres — preferably 15 to 20 — to build a low-rise facility with between 550 and 600 beds.
Such a site is not likely to be found within a few blocks of downtown Toledo’s courthouses, Sheriff Tharp said.
Mr. Cupples said consultants have narrowed 20 to 24 initial potential sites down to 13 or 14 that will be evaluated in greater detail. They plan to recommend five to seven sites for detailed study. Mr. Gerken said the county hopes to break ground on the facility by early 2015, if not late this year.
Except for property off Galena Street near Greenbelt Parkway, south of Toledo Correctional Institution, he did not disclose any of the other candidate sites. The county’s first candidate, he said, was the 500-bed “honor camp” at the state prison, but it was not available.
Port directors expressed their opinions on the suitableness of the Jeep site, now named the Overland Industrial Park by the port authority, which bought the 111-acre property four years ago from a Chrysler Corp. asset-liquidation company.
Board member Jerry Chabler said a jail would be an inappropriate use of land that should serve as one of Lucas County’s prime business-development sites. Board member Bernard “Pete” Culp, meanwhile, said he favors building a new jail there.
Mr. Cupples showed several examples of new jails in other communities built in industrial parks that blend in with their surroundings. Unlike prisons, with their outdoor recreation yards, jails generally aren’t designed for inmates to be outdoors or visible from the outside, he noted.
Low-rise buildings have become preferred for jails because they are easier to supervise and reduce the degree to which inmates move around, Mr. Cupples said.
Lucas County could operate a 600-bed jail with the same 350-person work force that now manages an overcrowded, antiquated facility designed 40 years ago for 366 inmates, and with better supervision, the consultant said.
With a more efficient jail, he added, police could deliver suspects for booking and be back on patrol in as little as 15 minutes, rather than the 60 to 90 minutes the process sometimes takes at the current jail.
Mr. Gerken last week estimated the jail will cost $50 million to $75 million.
Contact David Patch at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6094.