County considers contract for cleanup of old jail

During their May 26 meeting, County Commissioners will consider awarding a $122,022 contract to Hazardous Technologies, Inc. of Great Falls for asbestos and lead abatement in the old county jail.

The project is being funded with a grant from the Great Falls Development Authority.

The county received previous grant funds from GFDA this spring to inspect the two-story jail, plus a basement, that was designed by George H. Shandley and constructed in 1913 by the Olson and Johnson Company.

The building served as the county jail from 1914 through Jan. 11, 1998 when it was replaced by the Adult Detention Center on Gore Hill that is currently in use.

County gets $134K grant for hazardous material cleanup in old jail

The old jail is a sandstone building designed to complement the Cascade County Courthouse across the street, according to the county staff report, and has Romanesque Revival stylistic architectural features. The old jail is included in the Northside Residential Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Place.

In 2016, the county received Brownfield funding to conduct a phase one assessment of the facility to determine whether hazardous materials existed. That report indicated lead-based paint, asbestos and minor amounts of mercury within old thermostats may be present but no additional funds were available for materials testing, according to the county.

County documenting artwork in old county jail to preserve historical record

This spring, the county received Brownfield grant funding from GFDA for testing materials in the old jail and in April, the report from TD&H Engineering confirmed asbestos and lead-based paint within the building.

The county also contracted with a local photographer to document the artwork in the cells left by inmates over the years. Kate McCourt, the city-county historic preservation officer, accompanied the photographer to ensure noteworthy items were photographed and the work was completed earlier this month.

County inspecting old jail for hazardous materials with GFDA grant funding

The commission contacted three Montana companies that handle hazardous material abatement and only Hazardous Technologies Inc of Great Falls submitted a bid based on the findings from the TD&H materials testing report.

Their bid was $24,882 for asbestos abatement and $97,140 for lead abatement.

The Brownfield program is federally funded through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and since the jail is included on the National Register of Historic Places, a determination of no adverse affect was required from the Montana historic preservation office.

The EPA and state historic preservation office determined the cleanup of hazardous materials would not impact the historic elements of the old jail, according to the county.