Wednesday, April 04, 2001

Foes say bigger jail would hinder core development

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        INDEPENDENCE — Opponents of an expanded jail in downtown Covington told Kenton Fiscal Court on Tuesday that a larger jail would be a costly, short-term solution that would hinder downtown development.

        “From the numbers I've seen and heard, it would cost way more to expand the jail than to build a jail that would meet state standards, said Jim Young, a 26-year Covington resident.

        He added a jail expansion would be an inappropriate use for an area that serves as the gateway to Covington and Kentucky.

        “I urge you to consider this carefully and please build the jail somewhere else where it would meet state standards,” Mr. Young said.

        Kenton Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd said county officials will respond to questions and concerns about the jail expansion at the fiscal court's April 17 meeting. That meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Kenton County Courthouse in Independence.

        “I hope to respond to all e-mails I've received by the end of this week,” Mr. Murgatroyd said. On April 17, “we'll try to cover and respond to everything you've brought up tonight.”

        Several opponents of the jail expansion said they were surprised that some county officials — including County Commissioner Adam Koenig — indicated Tuesday they had not seen a recent study by Southbank Partners that was critical of a jail expansion.

        “We were stunned by that,” Sue Sampson, a 16-year Licking Riverside resident, said after the meeting. “Maybe we've been talking two figures all along. Maybe that's part of the problem.”

        Ms. Sampson sought clarification on a number of issues, including the cost of expanding the present jail in the county building at Third and Court streets versus building a new one at Interstate 275 and Ky. 17 — the 3L site the fiscal court rejected last year.

        Ms. Sampson said the February Southbank study said the current high-rise jail would cost $1.5 million more a year to operate than a single-level detention center.

        She also questioned the study's claims that the “fully loaded cost” of the expanded jail, including all costs and contingencies, would be $36 million, versus $26 million for the 3L site.

        Mr. Koenig said that he had not seen Southbank's report, but he added the cost figures as presented Tuesday “didn't make any logical sense,” because no decisions had been made on a final building design for the 3L site and there were questions about cleanup costs there.


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