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IYC-Joliet project moves forward

Closed facility would reopen for mentally ill inmates

Published: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 10:58 p.m. CST
Caption
(Shaw Media file photo)
The Illinois Youth Center in Joliet is seen in March.
Caption
(Shaw Media file photo)
The Illinois Youth Center in Joliet is seen in March.

JOLIET – Amid pressure from a federal lawsuit, state officials hope to speed up the process of selecting a general contractor to overhaul the closed Illinois Youth Center-Joliet into a facility to house mentally ill inmates.

The state is moving forward with the project even though the $35.7 billion budget approved by the Legislature in May doesn’t include money for IYC-Joliet.

“We are moving forward, despite the current budget woes, because we are legally required ... to do so,” Tom Shaer, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Corrections, said in an email.

According to project documents, the Capital Development Board is requesting that the $15.3 million construction project be bid out using a “single prime” delivery method, meaning all aspects of construction will be bid out as one packaged deal.

Single prime projects are generally done when the project has time restraints, said Dave Blanchette, spokesman for the Capital Development Board.

“This simplifies the communications on the project so you’re only going through one contractor,” Blanchette said.

The Illinois Department of Corrections is under pressure from a federal lawsuit that challenges the conditions of the state agency’s prison system for people with serious mental illnesses. In an attempt to settle the case, IDOC agreed with a court-appointed monitor to turn IYC-Joliet – a 484-bed facility on McDonough Street – into a facility for mentally ill offenders.

The court-appointed monitor wants state officials to reopen the facility “as soon as possible, and certainly within the next 18 months,” according to state purchasing documents. Not meeting the needs of mentally ill inmates could result in a federal court issuing a consent decree that would be significantly more costly for the state, the governor’s office has said.

According to CDB documents, the state agency is requesting bids from a single contractor because it’s in the “best interest of the state.” To move forward with this single prime process, the CDB is seeking approval from the state’s Procurement Policy Board at an upcoming meeting Aug. 7.

Total cost for the project is about $17 million, including engineering, although previous statements from the governor’s office estimated construction costs at $9 million.

Blanchette said discrepancy is because the initial estimate was made “under severe time constraints” before a designer had been hired and the full scope of the project was known. A firm price tag will be known in late 2014 when the state plans to solicit bids.

A construction timetable will be set once bids are awarded, which should occur in early 2015, Blanchette said.

A total of 13 buildings on the site are included in the scope of work.

Funding for the renovations is coming through the Capital Development Board, but the anticipated $30,000 in annual operating costs needed each year are contingent upon the income tax hike staying permanent, the governor’s office has said.

The recently approved state budget was created based off an expected Jan. 1 rollback of the 2011 tax hike. Local lawmakers have said a vote on the income tax hike could come up again after the November election, potentially making such spending cuts moot.

Earlier this year, the state hired DLR Group, a Chicago-based architectural firm, through an “emergency purchase affidavit,” exempting the state from going through the required 14-day solicitation period, according to documents.

The firm began the $20,000 study of the site April 1.

SCOPE OF WORK INCLUDES

• Accommodations in housing units for mentally ill offenders to include suicide prevention, hardening of cells, provisions for bunks, desks and shelving• Doors, locks and window renovations• Life safety and accessibility updates and modifications• Accommodations for an increased level of health care for the offender population• Site security constructions to include a new tower, a second perimeter fence and a new sally port• Repairs and modifications to the facility entrance to include improved traffic flow and expansion of the parking lots• Miscellaneous mechanical system replacements• Security Electronic renovations• Asbestos abatement as necessary for the new construction

Source: Capital Development Board

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