Commissioners mull replacing Lucas County jail

2/27/2013
BY KATE GIAMMARISE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Faced with high operational costs and looming capital needs, Lucas County commissioners say they want to study the possibility of replacing the Lucas County jail.

“The jail as it is is an inefficient building at best,” said Carol Contrada, president of the board of commissioners. “We need to provide an environment that is safe and secure for our employees and inmates.”

The corrections center, in downtown Toledo at 1622 Spielbusch Ave., opened in 1977. The building has nine levels, including six inmate-housing floors. Most inmates await trial on serious felony charges.

According to a resolution passed Tuesday, “The building does not meet today’s efficiency standards, requiring significantly more personnel than facilities of comparable size.” It also potentially has major capital needs, including a new roof and a new elevator, said Megan Vahey Casiere, Lucas County chief of planning and development.

The commissioners previously have said the building’s age and layout have contributed to budget overruns in the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office. At their weekly meeting Tuesday, the commissioners unanimously approved applying for a state grant from the Ohio Development Services Agency to help fund a feasibility study for replacing the jail.

The resolution said the funds would “assist with studying opportunities to create operational efficiencies in a new, refurbished, or repurposed Lucas County Correctional Center.”

Local governments must show collaboration, innovation, and cost savings to receive the competitive grant, said Thea Walsh, deputy chief, Office of Development for the Ohio Development Services Agency.

Toledo and Oregon city councils both have passed resolutions in support of the county’s application, Ms. Casiere said.