Commission needs final vote to sell Wayne Co. Jail site to Gilbe - Fox 2 News Headlines

Commission needs final vote to sell Wayne Co. Jail site to Gilbert

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(WJBK) -

The deal to sell the stalled Wayne County jail site to Dan Gilbert's 'Rock Venture" group clears another hurdle. All it needs now is a final vote from the county commission.

VIDEO: Click on the video player above to learn more in Fox 2's Randy Wimbley's report, or read the transcript below


A big sticking point - the last time the Wayne County Commission considered Dan Gilbert's proposal to buy the botched jail site was a half million dollar fine if the count backed out of the deal. That provision is now out of the picture.

"We've got to come up with a good decision. You don't get three swings at this thing; two's bad enough," says Kevyn McNamara, Wayne Co. Commissioner.

The new MOU gives Wayne County six months to find out if selling the botched jail project is in it's best interest, namely where to house prisoners and if it can afford to move to the Mound Road prison.

"We'll begin instantaneously working with the state and with the court systems trying to decide what we need in the number of cells out there, how the cells will be built working with the department of corrections and then working also with the folks from the governor's office on what a courthouse would look like and how we'd move - I should say the criminal court - out there," says Ray Byers. He's the Wayne Co. Director of Government Operations.

The plan was met with skepticism amongst many commissioners including Burton Leland. He voted for the jail project three years ago and wants to move forward with completing it. .

"There are too many unknowns about going out to Mound Road. To built a juvenile correction facility, a courthouse, retrofit a prison into a jail - and God knows what that's going to look like when they get done retrofitting it," says Leland.

"We should finish what we started. We haven't done that. We're suing the contractor, subcontractor. We don't know what the outcome of that will be," says Ray Basham, Wayne Co. Commissioner.

Gov. Rick Snyder wants Wayne CO. to sell the jail site but there's no guarantee the state would keep taxpayers from footing the bill to retrofit the Mound Road facility. Buyers is confident it would.

"The state is willing to come with more than just bonding to assist us to make the Mound thing work if at all feasible," says Buyers.

The plan commissioners approved revamps a half million dollar penalty if Wayne Co. were to pull out of the deal. Under the new terms the county would only have to pay it if it accepted a better offer than Gilbert's 50 million dollars.

"We wanted to build something, we want to build something like all of our projects. It works both ways. It's great for the community. It creates jobs. It creates a new tax base, and hopefully it works out even better in the long run for Detroit," says Dan Gilbert.

The unfinished jail cost the county 160 million dollars, plus interest, and is racking up 30 thousand dollars a month as it sits. The commission will vote on the new memorandum of understanding when it meets again next week. If approved then, we'll know in six months what will happen with this jail site.

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