Delaware County and Manchester Officials Discuss Possible Joint Center

del jailOfficials from Delaware County and City of Manchester met Thursday morning to discuss the proposed county jail expansion and renovation project. The County is looking into demolishing the century-old house adjacent to the jail, building an addition and renovating the existing jail to meet current needs. The four-point-six million dollar project would include better security for the safety of jail staff and the public, as well as more cells to house the prisoners and allow for inmate separation. The state’s chief jail inspector visited the Delaware County Jail last year and written the County up for several security and safety shortfalls, some of which cannot be corrected without renovations or an expansion. Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere says security is the main reason he’s pushing for the jail project, especially after a jail staffer was injured when an inmate escaped in 2012. LeClere says renovating and expanding the current jail facility is ideal because it would save one to two million dollars and it is connected to the courthouse, which means it’s safer and more convenient to transport inmates. City officials, including Police Chief Bruce Trapp, are questioning whether the County would consider a joint law enforcement center with the City of Manchester’s Police Department and Dispatch Center as part of their expansion since both departments are looking for more space. The response was mixed. While County Supervisor Jeff Madlom encouraged input from City Council members and the ad hoc committee on that idea, other county officials seemed hesitant. Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere says the project’s design, which was done three years ago, doesn’t include any kind of joint center – in fact, it doesn’t include a communications center – it’s strictly a jail project. Adding the City into the mix would cost more money, which the City would be responsible for, and it would require another feasibility study and design. County Supervisor Chairperson Jerry Ries says there simply isn’t room for a joint center. If there was more expansion on the west side of the courthouse, it would likely mean blocking off a portion of South Tama Street and disrupting use of the west entrance. Manchester’s city council members seem split on the idea of a joint center, agreeing that more information is needed. The Council plans to discuss it at their next meeting, with the ad-hoc committee requesting to hold off on their meetings until the City decides if they want to pursue a joint center. Council member Connie Behnken says a public vote on the jail project is unlikely for May, considering that a lot of details need to be worked out and the public needs to be well-informed. A county resident attending the meeting agreed, telling officials that she needs some concrete information about this project before she’ll vote yes.

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