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Lucas County eyeing Health Department property as new jail site

Lucas County eyeing Health Department property as new jail site
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 6:05 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Lucas County is finalizing plans for its new jail, and the site getting the most consideration is the current site of the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department. The planning phase is now underway.

The Health Department site has always made sense to many because of its neighbor Toledo Municipal Court. Many come from the jail to Municipal Court every day so keeping it all together just makes sense. Just about everyone is in agreement that the Lucas County jail is outdated and in need of replacement. The tricky part has been how to create a new one, how to pay for it, and where to put it. That “where” is coming more into focus.

“We want to build a project downtown. So the site we’re thinking about is going to be the Health Department,” said Lucas County Commissioner Gary Byers.

Commissioner Byers says he and his fellow commissioners are finishing the planning phase and expect the architectural and engineering aspect to start in February. That should take about year in part because this has the potential to be more than just a jail.

“What court services need to be offered in the building? Does it make sense to put a courtroom or two courtrooms actually in this facility as sort of an annex of the municipal court? There are lots of options we are exploring,” said Byers.

Voters said “No” to a tax increase in 2018 to build a jail on Detroit Avenue near Alexis Road. This time around the county doesn’t plan to go to voters and raise taxes. Part of the money will come from federal dollars in the America Rescue Plan Act or ARPA.

“We’re going to build it without a tax increase. With some of the potential ways that we can use the ARPA funds that we can offset enough of our debt services that we can pay for it by the efficiencies we’re building into it,” said Byers.

The Health Department building, at the corner of North Erie and Cherry Street, will need to come down as part of all this and Byers says the county would help in finding new space for that staff. Utility work needs to be done under Constitution Avenue but when it’s all settled Byers says we may see ground broken in 2024 with two years of construction and project work after that.

“Optimistically I think we can have this done by 2026,” said Byers.

This site would also allow the deputies to tap into the tunnel system to transport inmates to the court buildings downtown.

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