Lancaster Councilmen Oppose County Jail Site

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There is a push against a proposed plan to build a new, larger jail in Lancaster.
The current plan calls for the jail to be built on Wheeling Street in Lancaster, but some, including two members of city council, want the jail to go somewhere else.

Monday night, councilmen Randy Groff and Robert Hedges, introduced a resolution opposing construction of a new Fairfield County jail on Wheeling Street. The council members said they are doing what they can to protect the community.
Rachael Elder lives near the proposed jail site.
"There are five schools within a one-mile radius of that location, with so many kids and a park across the street; it's not the right place," Elder said.

The prison would house both minimum and maximum security inmates.

The site is adjacent to the current minimum security jail and near the city's downtown which is a location that the sheriff said makes sense because of its proximity to the court houses.

Some are concerned about what lies beneath the ground.

Lancaster councilman Randy Groff said, "There have been multiple environmental tests done on the site and it's been established by those tests that there are multiple contaminants under that property."

Groff contends construction could easily cause pollution of the city's water supply, especially because the site is less than 60 feet from a well.

Steve Davis, Fairfield County Commissioner said, "Even if there are some things below the surface less than desirable from a drinking water standpoint, there are all kinds of current technology for dealing with that."

County commissioner Steve Davis admits soil is contaminated, but not enough to cause alarm.

The council members said they aren't willing to take a chance with the city's water supply and they are using their power to stop the construction before it begins.

The county does plan to continue with soil and gas sampling at the site. Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed resolution. Council doesn't have the ability alone to stop construction.

The county does have another viable site option at Liberty Center, off West Fair Avenue.  Commissioners estimate construction on that property would cost upwards of $1 million less compared to the Wheeling Street site.