County will have engineering firm look at jail, original administration building

Photos by Tom Rivers: The original County Office Building was built in 1980. A $10 million addition was completed last year.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 August 2020 at 10:22 am

ALBION – Orleans County will have an engineer look at the original County Office Building and also the county jail.

The Wendel firm will review the layout of the County Office Building on Route 31 and offer options that include social distancing and the health and safety of employees and residents. That building opened in 1980 and includes the DMV, Social Services, Tourism, Planning and Development, Office for the Aging, Personnel and Job Development.

The county added new space that opened last year for the Health Department, County Legislature, computer services and the Board of Elections.

The county has required some employees to work from home because there are spots in the original County Office Building that don’t allow for social distancing. The county wants to create work spaces that are compliant with Covid-19 guidelines so the employees can return to the office building.

The Orleans County Jail was built in two phases in the early 1970s. It has a capacity for 82 inmates.

The county agreed to pay Wendel up to $9,750 to evaluate the work spaces in the original north section of the building, and also to evaluate the main entrance of the new County Office Building south entrance.

Wendel also has been hired to evaluate the county jail and explore options for the site to serve the current inmate population and employees. Wendel will be paid up to $9,750.

County legislators said on Wednesday they would like to work with Genesee County on a joint facility. Both counties have aging jails.

Orleans built its jail in the early 1970s. It has a capacity for 82 inmates. With bail reform, there are far fewer inmates in the jail. Lynne Johnson, the County Legislature chairwoman, said there were only 16 inmates in the jail last week.

The state currently requires all counties to have their own jails. Johnson said Orleans and Genesee would need a change in state legislation to allow for a shared jail.

She said it makes sense for the two counties to share because of the small inmate population. She doesn’t want to see each county be forced to spend $30 million or more for new jails.

Wendel will be asked for ideas to extend the longevity of the current holding center on Platt Street.

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