Today, Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced the selection of Tompkins/Ballard Joint Venture as the recommended vendor for the design and construction of the new city jail. The firm was selected for the $135 million project having received the highest overall ratings of four firms competing for the work.
"Technical design, value-added enhancements, life cycle cost, price and minority business involvement were areas where the Tompkins/Ballard Joint Venture scored highly," Mayor Jones said. Citing extensive experience building correctional facilities in urban areas, Mayor Jones noted that the joint venture also proposed the most creative and flexible design. “Tompkins/Ballard had the only proposal that did not have a phased approach which would have required relocation of jail inmates,” said Mayor Jones.
Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody noted, "The proposed design meets the core needs of the Sheriff’s Department, especially in that they propose a single-phase construction which would not require relocating inmates prior to or during construction. We are reshaping our public safety strategy into a more comprehensive effort focusing on human outcomes, and the new facility and the design components support that vision."
Tompkins/Ballard was the only proposal that did not exceed the $134.6 million budget appropriation and that stayed within the project budget. The proposal came in $11.5 million under budget, while all other proposals ranged from a low of $5.4 million over the project budget to a high of $18 million over the project budget.
Mayor Jones cited the commitment to minority business (MBE) and emerging small business (ESB) participation as another key component of the Tompkins/Ballard proposal. A project goal of 40% has been called for. Tompkins/Ballard's proposal exceeds the established goal and proposes 50.2% MBE/ESB inclusion. Locally-owned T.K. Davis Construction, Inc. is scheduled to receive 21% of the contract. Twelve other local area MBE firms are part of the team with nine of those located in the city of Richmond.
As recently as 2006, a Jail Commission recommended that a new jail was needed for the city of Richmond. An initial proposal presented to Mayor Jones in 2009 called for a 2,000-bed jail at an estimated cost exceeding $200 million. However, Mayor Jones called for a smaller facility citing his interest in working for alternatives to incarceration, options for non-violent offenders and proper placement for persons with mental illness.
After analysis and review, plans now call for a facility to be located at the current jail site with a capacity rated of 1,032 beds. The total projected cost of the project is about $135 million, rather than the 2,000 bed, $200 million facility that was originally suggested.
Mayor Jones noted that the city has begun its comprehensive review of alternative strategies. Reviews have shown that as many as 400 people in the jail population likely belonged in another setting or required other services, other than being held at the city jail.
“I am pleased that stakeholders were able to work together to agree that we could actually reach for and achieve different outcomes for our city. A smaller, more efficient jail is in everyone's best interest, and will provide for more humane treatment of inmates; better medical and educational services for the offender population; better conditions for the employees and visitors; and will cost taxpayers less money in the long run,” said Mayor Jones.
Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Herring stated, "This new jail will move the city toward meaningful improvements in the administration of justice in our city. I urge the city to continue the momentum that has been shown by the Jones Administration in moving the jail project forward."
The city has also worked to engage the community and to address concerns raised by the Eastview Community regarding aesthetics and the neighborhood impact of a correctional facility continuing to be located in the area.
“We are being very intentional about our efforts to improve the quality of life in the areas surrounding the jail,” said Mayor Jones. An action plan is being developed with the community that will focus on strategies for critical issues affecting the area. Some efforts to date include:
Acquiring properties for rehabilitation and sale - $175,000 was included in the FY 2012 budget for this purpose.
Demolishing dilapidated properties – this is an ongoing effort.
Improving poorly maintained public property - pro-active Code enforcement will be utilized rather than just complaint-driven.
The old Richmond Nursing Home on Cool Lane will be used as a community resources center – $1.6 million was included in the recently approved annual city budget for this purpose as approved by City Council.
A teen violence prevention program will be funded to operate at Armstrong High School starting next school year.
Now that the Tompkins/Ballard joint venture has been named as the recommended firm, City Council must approve the Comprehensive Agreement that will be introduced by ordinance on Monday, June 13. The City Administration is asking for approval by the end of July in order to protect the pricing structure that has been negotiated with the selected firm.
“I feel confident that we are heading in the right direction with this recommendation,” said Mayor Jones. “This is the right development team, the right design and the right price and I’m hopeful that the project will move forward. Our city needs this new jail - which I prefer to term a Justice Center - and we need it now.”