Muskegon County Holds Jail Groundbreaking Ceremony

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Muskegon County held a groundbreaking ceremony on Jan. 14 to celebrate the construction of its new $27.6 million jail. The ceremony was rescheduled due to subzero wind chills and extreme weather.

The weather also delayed the schedule for contractors to bid on parts of the jail construction. The deadline for bids was Jan. 16, but was extended to Jan. 21. MLive reported that more than 100 bids were submitted for about 24 contracts needed to build the jail.

The three-story, 100,000-square-foot jail will be located adjacent to the Michael E. Kobza Hall of Justice and the current Muskegon County Jail, which will continue to be operational during construction. The new jail will have the capacity to hold 544 inmates, compared to the current capacity of 370, addressing overcrowding issues that have plagued the current jail for decades. The current jail was built in 1959 and has been added onto several times. It even includes space in the basement of the Hall of Justice building to ease overcrowding.

“This long-awaited project will finally allow the county to meet the current and future needs within its correctional facilities,” Muskegon County Sheriff Dean Roesler said in a statement. “Not only does it address the additional space so desperately needed but it also provides greater efficiency in regards to observation and staffing.”

The new jail is scheduled for completion in spring 2015. Lansing, Mich.-based Granger Construction is serving as the construction manager on the project. The county held a similar groundbreaking ceremony on Dec. 3 for the new Juvenile Transition Center, which is scheduled for completion in November 2014.

Both facilities are being financed by the sale of a $39 million bond. The debt will be paid off in about 20 years with the money saved from efficient operations at the buildings.

At the Jan. 14 ceremony, 14th Circuit Court Judge William Marietti said that he hopes the results of another recent groundbreaking, for the Juvenile Transition Center, will mean fewer people being jailed.

Judge Marietti acknowledged that “the first priority of government is to provide protection of its citizenry,” and that he is also encouraged by the intentions of those who will run the new jail to “engage prisoners in activities that will prevent their return.”