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Saturday, May 18, 2024
The County Board approved $4.1 million in capital funding to make repairs to life-threatening problems in the City-County Building Jail.

The County Board approved $4.1 million in capital funding to make repairs to life-threatening problems in the City-County Building Jail.

‘Life-safety improvements’ coming to City-County Building Jail

Dane County will spend around $4.1 million to make the City-County Building Jail safe enough to house inmates in the short term, while the county works to discontinue housing inmates in the building in the long term.

The County Board of Supervisors approved the funding to “mitigate life-safety issues” unanimously, with two absences, Thursday after the resolution passed two committees unanimously.

The improvements are based off of recommendations in an August report from Mead and Hunt Inc., in collaboration with Potter Lawson, Inc. and Pulitzer/Bogard & Associates, LLC, that outlined the life-safety issues in the building. A group of county representatives and correctional design professionals then developed a strategy from that report for the county to execute.

The resolution explicitly said the improvements are only a short-term solution to the most significant problems in the building and “should not be considered a long term solution or fix.” The county will continue working toward decommissioning the jail, according to the resolution.

“Any delay in moving out of the CCB Jail will continue to increase the risk and exposure of staff and inmates regarding health and life-safety concerns,” the resolution reads.

The mitigation measures specifically will cost $3,990,940. They include replacing the cell block and cell door sliding devices, replacing outdated analog cameras and cable with digital infrastructure and testing the water for lead and other contaminants.

Windows in the building are currently fixed and will be replaced with operable units. The update will allow for smoke ventilation in the event of a fire. Currently the building is considered “windowless.”

The additional $141,210 will go to “soft costs” associated with managing the project. The project will spend capital funding that was already allocated.

“This is kind of a band-aid,” said County Board Supervisor Hayley Young, District 5. “But it is a band-aid that we really, really need. So that’s why there was the support for this and that’s why it’s called ‘Life and Safety Amendments.’”

The county will have to approve additional funding in the 2017 capital budget for increased staffing during the construction, compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act and inmate transportation. The original ordinance said those items would be “approved,” but the Board amended the language that to say those items will be “considered” in 2017.

Young also toured the facilities, which have newer and older portions, before voting on the resolution.

“If you compare the older facility with the newer part, you can see the newer part is following best practices,” Young said. “It is just a frankly better facility than some of the older parts. Touring that I think makes something like this, you really see why this is necessary.”

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Dane County Executive Joe Parisi still must sign the resolution before it becomes law. According to the contract, the project is expected to start June 1, 2017.

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