County awards contract for cleanup of old jail

County Commissioners approved contracts for cleanup work in the old jail during their July 28 meeting.

They approved a $134,772 contract to Hazardous Technologies Inc. for lead, asbestos and mercury remediation.

That cost will be funded by a grant from the Great Falls Development Authority.

Commissioners also awarded a $40,100 contract to the same company for the removal of non-hazardous materials, such as carpets and wall paneling that needs to be removed to address the hazardous materials. The county will fund that contract.

They were initially set to consider the contract in May for about $10,000 less but the item was pulled from the agenda.

County considers contract for cleanup of old jail

Commissioner Jane Weber said that they thought GFDA would award the contract directly, but were later informed that the contract had to go through the county, which added a delay and some additional costs through the formal government bidding process.

She said the contractor also factored in permits, which hadn’t been included in the initial bid submitted for GFDA.

The contract includes $25,528 for asbestos abatement, $108,790 for lead abatement; $154 for mercury abatement and $300 for permits, according to the county agenda report.

There is no plan for future use of the building, but Commissioner Joe Briggs said cleanup is the first step to being able to use the space again.

Weber has said multiple times in the past that her dream is to make the building an extension of the justice campus an the main courthouse by moving the county’s justices of the peace to the building, using a courtroom in it and possibly moving probation and the county commissioners office. That would free up space in the county courthouse for district court operations, particularly if the county gets a fifth judge.

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.

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.