Article published October 11, 1990
Additional testing called for
More testing is needed before county officials can determine whether a proposed site on California Avenue is suitable for a $15 million new county jail.
Meanwhile, architects have negotiated a contract price - about $19,000 higher than the original budget - for converting a county warehouse into temporary jail cells to alleviate overcrowding at the county jail.
County officials made no decision on the permanent site after a 30-minute executive session to discuss legal questions. County Administrator Roland Windham said more soil tests may be necessary to determine whether the site may have been affected by toxic waste found on neighboring property in 1984. Several barrels of cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs were found at an old Howard Street dump site neighboring the 43-acre tract. Removal of the contamination was confined to surface cleanup, and it is unsure whether there is any subsurface contamination, Windham said.
Windham has been negotiating a deal with owners of the undeveloped land located on California Avenue near Howard Street. During the negotiations, the county hired a consultant to perform suitability studies on the site.
The proposed jail property also will be surveyed for wetlands determination. A creek flows through the site, but Windham said a survey must be performed to determine which portions of the site are considered wetlands. Federal development standards limit development in designated wetlands areas. Once the wetlands are determined, jail architects will determine if components of the jail can be built on the proposed site.
In a related matter, converting the former Sullivan Hardware Building into a 129-bed temporary jail will cost slightly more than expected, but the project will fall within the proposed budget. Earl Stahl, engineer for the project, said county officials had negotiated a maximum construction price for the warehouse conversion at $704,109, about $19,000 more than originally budgeted. The budget, however, also contained a 10 percent contingency fund that can be used to make up the difference.
The council unanimously approved the contract with Roebuck Building Co., which was selected for the work last month. The temporary jail, which will contain six dormitory cells with a total of 129 beds, must be completed in four months, under contract provisions. It is being built to relieve overcrowding in the county jail, which has an average daily population nearly 21/2 times more than its rated capacity.