OHIO - Electrical Problems Stall Jail Opening

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Electrical Problems Stall Parma Jail Opening

Tuesday, July 11, 2000



PARMA - Electrical problems have kept the 24-inmate jail in the new $17 million Parma Justice Center closed to all but one overnight prisoner - John Benedict, the man accused of killing his mother, officials said.

And Benedict has since been transferred to the Cuyahoga County Jail.

Prisoners are being farmed out to the North Royalton and Brooklyn jails, Safety Director Robert Dybzinski said. The city will demand that contractors who caused the glitch pay the cost of housing the prisoners at other jails, he said.

Dybzinski confirmed that the jail was not yet open and said he could not predict when it would be operable. The new building was billed as state of the art when it opened June 19.

"We have some security issues were working on, and until they have been resolved to our satisfaction, were just not going to open it," Dybzinski said. The control panel that operates the opening and closing of jail cell doors, security cameras and other features were "not completed according to bid specifications," he said.

Dybzinski said he could not be more specific because of "possible legal ramifications."

The safety director made it clear the city plans to go after some of the contractors involved in the malfunctioning panel but said he could not identify who was at fault.

"Theres a lot of fingerpointing going on," he said.

As a lever, he said, the city "is taking a look at the amount of money we owe contractors and their performance bonds."

The shuttling of prisoners has slowed some court proceedings, said an irritated Parma Municipal Judge Mary L. Dunning. Hearings have been delayed because two uniformed bailiffs must escort each prisoner from jails in neighboring communities, she said.

Architect Richard Bowen, whose firm also served as construction manager, did not return a phone request for comment.

City Law Director Tim Dobeck said he has not yet drafted a legal battle plan to deal with the issue because he is satisfied corrections officials are handling it well.

"Whats disappointing is it wasnt worked out by the contractor before it opened," Dobeck said.

The faulty control panel is the third problem to surface since the Justice Center opened.

Two contractors claim Parma owes them money for work performed on the center.

Giambrone Masonry Inc. has sued Parma for $193,000. Ty Inc. is trying to collect $180,000 for grading, said Dobeck, who is trying to resolve those cases.

E-mail: jwagner@plaind.com


-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), July 11, 2000

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