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of Edmonds, a firm that will be making repairs to the current jail’s fire sprinkler system, door locks and kitchen.
Other critical projects, such as meeting current seismic standards and a ventilation system for smoke in case of a fire, will require major structural repairs, said Lauri Strauss, president and CEO of design2 LAST.
Plans called for a 480-bed criminal justice facility in a complex of buildings located near Slater Road and Interstate 5 in Ferndale. Supporters of the tax feared overcrowding, safety and other issues at the main jail that opened in 1984 and now has a cap of 212 inmates.
It’s been called a fire and earthquake hazard, in addition to a health hazard, and Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo, whose department is in charge of jail operations, has called the current facility “inhumane.” Foes criticized the new jail proposal’s size, cost, and its location away from the Whatcom County seat in Bellingham where courts, county prosecutors and sheriff’s officials have offices.
The measure failed 58.6 percent to 41.4 percent, even though it had the support of all seven cities and many civic leaders countywide.
A nearly identical proposal narrowly failed in November 2015 – 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent – and without the support of the Bellingham City Council.