Cleveland’s Industrial Valley could be the new site for the Cuyahoga County Jail

Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 11:48 PM EDT

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - There are definitely mixed feelings and even anger about a proposal to build a new jail in Cuyahoga County.

More than 100 people gathered on the campus of Cuyahoga Community College for the latest update on the plan, and the public was vocal, many not buying what the jail committee is selling.

The group is now at a stage where they will propose an offer to buy the land to the County Council at the first September meeting.

A 44-acre plot of land located at 2700 Transport Road is now the newly proposed site for a new jail location. It’s located just across the river from Tremont, in the Industrial Valley area. It’s also the former home of the Standard Oil Refinery in Cleveland that dates back to 1863. There is a business that specializes in storage on the property now.

But, Pastor George Herbeck doesn’t believe building a new jail will solve the problems in Cleveland,

“We’re working at the back end again, when we talk about spending half a billion dollars for a new jail, which is not the prevention side.”

A purchase offer on the land still needs to be approved by County Council that will learn about the details of the purchase proposal during the first week of September.

An environmental study and a plan to make the land safe for building a 800,000 square foot jail with a capacity for just over 1900 inmates is complete, according to John Garvey of Partners Environmental, “We need to take measures to ensure the jail occupants be they inmates or workers are protected.”

According to Garvey, the upper two feet of land or soil is clean, but there is Benzene and Methane in the lower levels of the soil that measure above the normal standard. A plan is already in place to address those issues in line with EPA standards Garvey says, “They’ll be a vapor mitigation system that prevents those vapors from moving into the building, and they’ll be indoor air monitoring.”

The committee working on the new jail says the old jail is operationally inefficient, demands a large staff, and lacks the space to meet critical needs like a room for attorneys to meet with inmates and families.

But some who live in Cleveland named several other concerns. Larry Heller says there are more important issues to deal with concerning the jail than just how to design a new building, “This is window dressing. This whole process started because people were dying in our jail. People were being denied access to medical care, people were being denied basic human rights and basic human dignities.”

Some questioned why the rush to build a new jail, but the committee says this has been something they’ve been looking into since 2013, and they want the public’s input because there’s still a long way to go even when it comes to planning.