Vacant Holding Center to be demolished

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners voted Monday to proceed with plans to demolish the former Holding Center.

The commissioners voted unanimously to accept the low bid for demolition of the vacant Second Street building from Empire Builders of Parkersburg for $25,400. The low bid for asbestos removal also was from Empire at $11,700.

The commissioners are planning to have a parking lot constructed on the property once the building is razed.

The commissioners set a one-week comment period before making a decision on the bids.

Local resident Harold Yglesias, who earlier asked the commission to consider alternative uses for the vacant building, attended Monday’s meeting.

He told the commissioners he discussed the possibility of using the building to take children on tours through the building as a deterrent. “The school officials felt it would be too traumatic for the kids and would upset the parents,” Yglesias said.

“I have explored several avenues; it seems like the building could be renovated; the outside is in good shape; just to tear it down and make a parking lot, I don’t agree,” Yglesias said.

County officials read a letter from WTAP-TV General Manager/Vice President Roger Sheppard which stated if the county was interested in selling the property, the television station, which sits on the neighboring property, might be interested in buying it.

Sheppard noted “due to its sturdy overall construction and our not having a basement or any other kind of storm shelter, we might have an interest in leaving some of the building intact as a possible place for our employees to seek refuge in times of weather-related emergencies or other such incidents,” Sheppard said in his letter.

“We have explored other options, and I think we have exhausted the possibilities. We just can’t find another use for it. We have adequately evaluated the possibilities and left it open for public comment,” commission President Wayne Dunn said.

“The historical society officials I talked with see no value in the building; the renovation cost would be extreme. We do need parking, and we have the ability to charge for some of the parking to make some money off of it instead of just spending money on it,” Commissioner Blair Couch said.

The vacant building is costing the county $8,000 annually to maintain plus the cost of insurance.

“I don’t think we’re interested in selling it and it’s not practical to have part of the building still standing,” Couch said.

The commissioners agreed the generator and kitchen equipment in the building will be removed.

“We also need to have the sheriff’s department go through the building and make sure they have removed everything,” Couch said.

“I think this is the best approach for this in the long term and short term,” Dunn said.

A smaller version of the Holding Center was constructed in the Wood County Justice Center. Holding Center and Home Confinement Program personnel were moved from the building when the Justice Center opened in early 2012.

The commissioners have met with state and federal corrections officials to see if there was any interest in purchasing/leasing the vacant Holding Center for corrections facilities, but there were no takers.

Before being a Holding Center, the building served as the county jail from the time it was constructed in the 1970s until 2001, when the regional jail authority was formed and inmates serving sentences were transferred to the North Central Regional Jail at Greenwood, Doddridge County.