To call it a boondoggle is being kind. All you see of the new Wayne County Jail is some concrete and metal sticking out of the ground and already the new facility is $91 million dollars over budget.
Design experts say there are only two reasons: 1) Either the architect and contractor poorly designed and then underbid the project or 2) Several people at the county level have had their fingers in the pie making changes.
Two local firms are responsible for designing and building this project: Ghafari and Walbridge Aldinger. Both have decades of experience and both are well thought of in professional circles. This jail project pales in comparison to the other major projects both of these companies have been involved with.
As of now, no work will be done on this project for 60 days while Wayne County tries to figure out whether it can be salvaged or scrapped.
Have changes to the plans been made since the project was signed, sealed and delivered at a specific price? Yes.
Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon says he was never consulted in the design phase of the new jail. An assertion June West, County Executive Bob Ficano's spokeswoman, said is laughable -- $1.8 million is in the contract for Napoleon to have his handpicked people in on the meetings.
So, exactly who has been making changes to the plans? Insiders at the county tell Local 4 several current and former high-ranking officials.
As one top-drawer design professional explained as Local 4 went over the numbers with them, it appears the politicos are the problem here, not the professionals contracted to do the job.