First step for possible new Orange jail
Orange County and the N.C. State Property Office are negotiating a lease for land near the Orange County prison that could become the site of a new Orange County Jail.
In October, the Council of State authorized the issuance of a 50-year land lease to the county for 6.8 acres for the purpose of operating a future Criminal Justice Detention Center, according to a memo from Jeff Thompson, director of Orange County Asset Management Services.
The site is located near the intersection of Interstate 85 and Old N.C. 86, just north of the Orange Correctional Center and across the street from the Kangaroo Express and McDonald’s Restaurant.
The parcel of land belongs to the N.C. Department of Corrections.
The Orange County Sheriff would operate the facility, Thompson said in the memo.
Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass said there are still many steps to go before the jail becomes a reality, including coming up with the money to build it and approval by the county commissioners as well as the Town of Hillsborough, since the property is located within the Hillsborough Town limits.
If the Orange County Board of Commissioners approves the final lease, it’s expected the lease would be executed early next year.
“Within its Capital Investment Plan, the Board of County Commissioners has contemplated construction of this estimated 250-bed facility during the fiscal year 2016-17 at a cost of approximately $30 million,” Thompson said in the memo.
The county staff is continuing the development process by performing environmental, geotechnical and preliminary cost analysis of the property, Thompson wrote in the memo.
The current jail, which is located in downtown Hillsborough, is across the street from the old courthouse. It was originally built in 1925, and it housed 38 inmates. In 1980, the interior was remodeled with eight new cells.
Since 1982, major renovations and additions to the jail have been paid for by Federal funding, through the U.S. Marshal’s Office.
In 1992, a $2 million grant from the Marshal’s Office helped build an addition with 62 beds. Sometimes federal prisoners are housed in the jail while awaiting trial.
The Orange County Jail now has beds for 138 inmates, and during periods of overcrowding, some prisoners have had to sleep on mattresses on the floor.
Thompson could not be reached for comment.