City down to four proposals for a new jail

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Two of the six groups vying to build a new Richmond City Jail have been disqualified. The news came as one council member stepped up her fight to keep any future jail out of her district.

City leaders would not say which two proposals were sent back and how they were flawed. We learned the news at a lunch meeting between the mayor and city council. A meeting that got a little lively.

There's no doubt the city needs a new jail, but where it will go is quickly becoming contentious.

Reva Trammall: Where are the other ones? There's supposed to be three more.
Mayor: I'm not discussing it.
Reva: You can't discuss that?
Mayor: I'm not discussing it.

That's just the beginning of a four minute exchange caught on camera at a council lunch. There are four proposals for a new city jail under consideration. Details on two have leaked out, including a proposal for a jail in the Bellemeade Community off Commerce Road. And Councilwoman Reva Trammall is holding a community meeting this week about a proposal for a jail at an old Phillip Morris building. Trammall didn't hide her frustration today.

"Is there going to another one in the 8th district? Is it going to be the first? The second? The third? Where are the other proposals? He's the mayor. He should know. He said he does not know. He does not want to know," said Trammall.

But Mayor Dwight Jones says he doesn't know because the proposals are being vetted by a special committee appointed to review the plans. And he says revealing the locations now, would hurt the process.

"Obviously some developers are making contacts to maybe some people in the community, maybe some city council people which is inappropriate," said Jones.

Late last week the city even sent a letter to the remaining firms vying to build the jail, telling them they could be disqualified if they continued approach city council members or city representatives. Jones asked for the community to remain calm.

"Right now it's time for people to keep their powder dry, and let's kind of let this thing work itself. So we have something to report right now all you have is hearsay," said Jones.

It could take up to 6 months to vet the remaining proposals. The mayor will make his recommendation, but city council will have the final say. For more on the exchange at today's meeting go to Decision Richmond.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.