County jail expansion faces $2-4 million funding shortfall and year-long construction delay • The Mendocino Voice | Mendocino County, CAThe Mendocino Voice

The Mendocino County Jail expansion project faces a funding shortfall of up to $4.1 million and will take a year longer to build than initial projections indicated.

Construction of the 22,500 square foot prison expansion which was first introduced in 2019 has stalled while the state fire marshal and county building department review construction plans, Eric Fadness said at Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting. Due to rising labor costs and rising material prices due to inflation, the project is becoming more expensive, he said. Fadness is a principal at Nacht & Lewis Architects, the architectural firm prison extension design.

“We’re not really confident that we can get through the review process, just with the delays we’re seeing, in a timely manner,” Fadness said. “Delays have essentially impacted the cost of the project, so we continue to see substantial increases caused by building materials and construction labor, wages increasing.”

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Nacht & Lewis were contracted to design and construct two new buildings expanding the existing Mendocino County jail, which holds 301 inmates, which would provide new housing and treatment facilities and a new visitation center. The new accommodation center will have approximately 60 beds, a security cell, a respiratory isolation cell, recreation yards, a nursing station, medical and dental examination rooms and other rooms for programming. and staff support. The visitor center will provide contact and non-contact spaces for families and attorneys, according to the architecture firm’s website.

The plans stemmed from a state lease-income obligation that provided funds for the design and construction of local adult criminal justice facilities. Mendocino County received $25 million from the state to construct the new buildings.

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The Construction Manager’s cost projections estimated that the expansion would cost $29.6 million in May 2021. Now, those projections predict that it will cost the county between $33.7 and $35.6 million to complete. build, and it could end up being $7 million or $8 million over budget, Fadness claimed during the meeting.

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Rising construction costs leave a funding gap of $2.2 to $4.1 million, depending on the budget analysis. It’s the construction that’s hurting the safety and efficiency of the jail, Sheriff Matt Kendall said. A 2022 Mendocino County Grand Jury Report said the prison has faced serious problems with deferred maintenance since it was built in 1985.

“We can’t afford not to move forward with this project,” Kendall said.

The BOS agreed at Tuesday’s meeting to lobby the state for funding to cover the unpaid costs of expanding the prison. It was not immediately clear when the council would begin seeking state funding.

“I understand the jail was built around 1985 to last a few years while the county built a jail but the county never followed through. It’s not an exciting project, the supervisors probably aren’t taking this job to build a new prison, it’s not what their constituents want to see as a goal, but the reality is that it’s a warrant,” said Board Chairman Ted Williams said at Tuesday’s meeting. .

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“The sheriff has the charter to operate the jail, but the board has a responsibility to provide him with a safe facility and a staff that meets state requirements,” he continued.

Construction of the jail depends on plan approvals from the state fire marshal and county building department, Fadness said, but the county plans to begin construction in April 2023 and complete the expansion. by December 2024, according to documents submitted by the county to BOS. . The county hopes to begin using the facilities in March 2025, nearly a year later than expected at this time last year.

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Note: Lucy Peterson is a Report for America Fellow covering environment and natural resources for The Mendocino Voice. His position is funded by Mendocino Community Foundation, Report for America, & our readers. You can support Lucy’s work here or email [email protected]. Contact Peterson at [email protected] or at (707) 234-5291. The Voice maintains editorial control and independence.

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