The Norman Transcript

Opinion

July 9, 2014

Walls coming down

NORMAN — Pardon the pun but it seems almost criminal to some to tear down a jail built less than 30 years ago. But then again, public jails have limited uses beyond incarceration and they take a beating by the occupants.

Those factors alone make it time to take down the Cleveland County Detention Center on Jones Avenue. The building opened in 1984 and replaced the one high atop the old courthouse building. That area has been turned into storage.

County officials have hired Architects in Partnership to develop a master plan for the county’s property. The jail site will be cleared and temporary parking spaces added as county officials decide how best to use the space.

They are taking a cue from Oklahoma City on recycling the building’s materials. Oklahoma City recycled the old Interstate 40 debris into roadbeds and used the steel in various locations.

Meanwhile, the F. DeWayne Beggs Detention Center on Franklin Road east of Flood Avenue opened in January of 2012. County taxpayers have been paying upwards of $600,000 a month to pay off the $26 million facility.

Past commissioners vowed to end the countywide jail sales tax as soon as the building was paid off. That will be much sooner than most expected.

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