Saturday, January 23, 2016

DeKalb County jail to expand due to increase in population

Sycamore resident Jose Hernandez said he is concerned about his children’s safety due to a $35 million DeKalb County Jail expansion.

“I live right across from there, and I have two little ones,” Hernandez said. “I’m going to be working, so I can’t be there to protect them. With more people coming in to visit the inmates, will there be more patrols there?”

During the Sycamore City Council meeting Tuesday, the council addressed concerns like Hernandez’ regarding the expansion , along with a presentation on the construction timeline and jail renderings.

The expansion of the jail was first proposed in March 2004 to accommodate for an anticipated increase in population of 18,500 by 2025, according to a March 2004 DeKalb County Jail study.

The expansion will add 60 beds to the county jail, said Lieutenant Joyce Klein, DeKalb County Chief of Corrections.

DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said the increase in traffic will not result in an increase of patrolling or staff.

“The amount of police cars that come in and out of jail are significant already,” Scott said. “We don’t plan on adding patrols for that area, just the routine normal traffic. We’re not increasing staff. We don’t anticipate expanding visitation at this point.”

In response to safety concerns, Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy said the council should review and update the project in six months and hold another event for residents to express their concerns about the jail expansion.

“This is something we need to keep an eye on,” Mundy said. “If things change, let us know.”

Brian Kerner, Dewberry Architects Inc. associate, said safety features to be added to the new building will include well-lit parking lots and a black, vinyl fence for the inmates rather than a razor or barbed wire fence.

The county will be in the bidding process for contractors until March. Following the bidding process, the start of construction on Exchange Street will begin in the spring.

The completion of excavation work on Exchange Street is tentatively scheduled for July, according to a timeline released by Dewberry Architects Inc. provided at the city council meeting Tuesday.

Kerner said the expansion completion is tentatively scheduled for summer 2018.

“We’re hoping for that date, but that also depends on when we’re going to start the work,” Kerner said

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