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Charlottesville jail asks for feedback on planned multimillion-dollar renovation

The authority that runs Charlottesville’s jail is asking for community feedback on a planned multimillion-dollar renovation of the facility.

After hosting two community forums where the authority discussed its three proposed renovation options — and faced pushback for not soliciting more outside input — the body that governs the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail has created a five-question survey open to the public.

That survey opens by asking respondents if they’ve taken a tour of the facility in the past two years.

“If yes, what specific areas or services would you choose to address with the renovation?” reads the second question, which includes nine options for respondents to select.

Among them are mental health services and housing, improved living conditions for inmates, more family visitation, improved recreation options and heating ventilation, air conditioning and air filtration.

Among the remaining questions, respondents are asked for additional comments or suggestions and if there are any other services or items they’d like to see addressed in the renovation.

“If you have not taken a tour of the facility, are [there] items or services you have [seen] on social media, television, around the state, the country or other countries that you believe should or should not be included in the renovation?” reads the final question.

The survey must be completed by next Thursday, which is the same day as the final planned community forum on the renovations at Carver Recreation Center in the city.

Critics have argued that the authority has not done enough to address the concerns of local taxpayers and residents. While the authority has proposed three different renovation options, each with a different price tag, some believe it is pushing for the most expensive option.

At the first forum, members of the Charlottesville-based Legal Aid Justice Center argued that the entire event was a sham and that the authority — and the board that will determine which project to choose — had already determined it would be moving ahead with the more expensive $49 million renovation option. That proposal would require the demolition of the facility’s east wing, first constructed in 1975, and replace it with a two-story expansion.

Critics said that money would be better spent on efforts to help prevent crimes from being committed in the first place, such as affordable housing and mental health programs. Martin Kumer, the jail’s superintendent, has countered that it is not an “either-or” choice.

There have been two more, less expensive options presented to the public.

The first would cost $25 million and would renovate housing in the west wing of the building, leaving the east wing untouched.

The second would renovate housing in both the east and west wings at a cost of $35 million.

The jail is funded by Albemarle County, Nelson County and the city of Charlottesville. All three must agree to support whichever option the jail board authority votes to approve. The board includes officials from each of those three jurisdictions.

The survey can be found online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/C8FNZ6C.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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