Asbestos removed at former holding center

PARKERSBURG – Workers were removing metals from the former Wood County Holding Center on Thursday in preparation for demolition to begin.

Wood County commissioners are still discussing options for the Second Street property, which may include possible lease or metered parking for the public or designating some employee/juror parking.

During an earlier inspection, asbestos was found in the floor tiles of the former jail and possibly in the mastic, which was removed last week.

Low-bidder Empire Builders of Parkersburg was chosen to do the asbestos removal at a cost of $11,700 and the demolition for $25,400.

Holding Center and Home Confinement Program personnel were relocated to new headquarters at the Wood County Justice Center in January 2012. The former holding center has been sitting vacant since the move.

The center is a former jail. It is next to the county maintenance building, which sits at the corner of Avery and Second streets and formerly served as the law enforcement building.

The sheriff’s department was also moved to the justice center.

Last week the commissioners reviewed a proposed land use plan for the property from Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell that included a 17,000-square-foot Urban Dog Park in addition to an hourly parking lot and green space.

Commissioner Steve Gainer said he previously brought up the plans for the holding center property at a Downtown Task Force Committee meeting.

“The idea is being proposed by the mayor to attract more people into downtown,” commission President Wane Dunn said. Newell proposed creation of 72 hourly parking spaces, walkway, green space and the dog park.

The mayor proposed entering an agreement with the county for help in building and maintaining the lot and enforcement of parking.

According to the mayor’s proposal, the revenue arrangement could be geared so the city receives revenue for management and the county receives revenue to recover the costs of establishing the park.

A solar-powered parking kiosk, such as the one planned for Seventh and Juliana streets, would be installed. No cost estimate for the dog park was included in the proposal.

On days when jurors are called to report, Newell suggested the lot be reserved for jury parking only.

Prosecutor Jason Wharton suggested the commissioners wait until the building is down to make a decision on the parking lot configuration.

The commissioners agreed.

The holding center was costing the county about $8,000 annually to maintain plus insurance.

County officials had repeatedly contacted state and federal correctional officials about the possibility of using the facility, but there were no takers.