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Group examines options for aging Muskegon jail | News

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Group examines options for aging Muskegon jail
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MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) - Build a new jail or renovate and expand the current jail-- that's what elected leaders and concerned citizens in Muskegon County are deciding this week. A consultant is moderating the talks with the goal of reaching a consensus by the end of the week.

The nearly 50-year-old facility has overcrowding and maintenance issues, especially when it comes to plumbing.

"We continue to address life safety issues and upgrade things that need to be upgraded. The design has lived out its lifespan. The new design of new jails is much more efficient and less labor intense. This is a very labor intense jail," says Muskegon County Administrator Bonnie Hammersley.

The question of what to do next has been kicked around for 10 years. Now, a firm specializing in criminal justice and public safety has studied the issue and is moderating an open week-long forum.

RQAW Helped design jails in Allegan and Kalamazoo. The firms stands clear on Muskegon's jail.

"The jail in my opinion has reached the end of its life," says Joseph Mrak, Senior Vice President at RQAW.

That leaves remodeling the jail, expanding, building a new jail, and even turning a vacant building into a jail as possible solutions. RQAW'S goal is to develop several plans that would meet the county's needs for 20 or more years, then step aside and let county residents and their elected commissioners choose a plan.

"I just hope to get it right, solve the problem, and move on to other things," says Ken Mahoney of Muskegon County.

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