One of the most contentious issues on our local ballot was Issue 10. This would fund a new Lucas County jail and adjacent treatment facility in the 57-hundred block of North Detroit. Voters rejected the measure handily 59% to 41%. So the question now becomes where does this leave the project now?
"We need a new jail for the employees that work here. We need a new jail for the people we house for humane treatment," says Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp. Tharp goes onto say that regardless of where the facility is put, he's not giving up, "To me it's more important that we get a new facility, that's what I want to see."
So the levy defeat brings Lucas County Commissioners back to the drawing board. There are several solutions that Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken says have been exhaustively researched and turned down for cost and logistical reasons. "You can't leave the jail as is because it's cost to operate in it's present form is rising millions of dollars a year," says Gerken.
Critics of the Detroit Avenue location say it needs to remain downtown somewhere. But Gerken says the way the new facility is designed requires a lot of acreage and it's just not possible. "Today there's just not 9 to 20 acres downtown that could be bought, assembled, and built on for less than twenty-five million dollars. And finally opponents say you could just revamp the current location, but Gerken fires back saying "You still have to open a temporary for swing space. You have to move people out to guild new and then you have to move them back and that's unworkable also."
So as it stands there is a bit of a stand off between county leaders and opponents of the jail move to Detroit Avenue. County Commissioners say they will be reworking numbers, and talking with residents about their ideas for the project. No timeline has been set to make a new move in what's turned out to be a six-year stalemate.