Moffat County Planner Jerry Hoberg stands Monday in a doorway leading to holding cells in the old Moffat County Jail behind the Moffat County Courthouse. The Moffat County Commission has begun the process of demolishing the old jail, which was vacated when the Moffat County Public Safety Center was opened in 2001.

Photo by Brian Smith

Moffat County Planner Jerry Hoberg stands Monday in a doorway leading to holding cells in the old Moffat County Jail behind the Moffat County Courthouse. The Moffat County Commission has begun the process of demolishing the old jail, which was vacated when the Moffat County Public Safety Center was opened in 2001.

Moffat County begins process of demolishing old jail

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The fate of the old Moffat County Jail has been a conversation topic since before Tom Gray was elected to the Moffat County Commission, he said.

But, nobody was quite sure what to do with the metal, modular-constructed space connected to the north side of the courthouse and vacated in 2001 when the Moffat County Public Safety Center was built with a new jail facility, Gray said.

“Since I’ve been a commissioner we’ve been talking about getting those old modulars out of there and each year, with tight budgets or one thing or the other, we didn’t get to it,” he said. “It seemed like it had issues and problems kept popping up. As you looked at it and we’d walk through it and go, ‘Man, that’s not going to be as easy as it looks.’”

This spring, however, the commission will start the process of having the old jail removed and in its place lay asphalt to expand the courthouse’s parking.

Moffat County Planner Jerry Hoberg said the old jail was built around 1979 as an addition to the courthouse. It contains seven double holding cells, eight single cells and other office areas, he said.

At it’s regular Tuesday meeting, the county commission approved, 2-0, awarding the demolition services to XField Services.

Two bids were submitted to the county for the project and instead of the businesses competing on the lowest demolition cost, the commission awarded the bid to the company with the higher percentage it would refund the county from the resold scrap metal.

XField Services agreed to refund the county 48 percent of the money made from the project.

Considering scrap metal is selling for $240 a ton, Hoberg said the payoff could be decent for the county, but he was unsure just how much the area pegged for demolition would weigh.

“The thing is that nobody knows how much each of those sections weigh and nobody really wants to make a guess,” he said. “If each one weighed 40,000 pounds, that’d be even better, but if each one only weighs 5,000 pounds then you are definitely cutting in on the amount you’re going to get for salvage.”

Tinneal Gerber, Moffat County budget analyst, said the county budgeted $200,000 for the demolition, but officials are hoping the county won’t have to use all of those funds.

Gray said the $200,000 budgeted was “quite a bit because we didn’t know what we were getting into.”

“But, I think we’ll do good because the price of scrap metal is really high right now,” he said.

The decision to tear down the old jail was influenced by the commission’s decision to also repave the courthouse parking lot this summer.

“It sure didn’t make sense to repave the parking lot and not have the jail out and do it all in one piece,” Gray said.

Hoberg said a brick multi-purpose room attached to the jail would not be part of the jail demolition project. The fate of that building, he said, is up to the commission.

“I’m hoping that goes, too, and that way we can have just a nice big parking lot and not a big building sitting there, too,” he said.

Hoberg said the county also had preliminary concerns about possible asbestos in the old jail facility. However, a test of the facility only turned up floor tiles containing non-friable asbestos, which the county was able to mitigate, he said.

Hoberg said the project’s cost could have been elevated by about $20,000 if friable asbestos materials were found in the jail.

“We got lucky there,” he said.

Hoberg said he would like to see the jail be hauled off before the start of the summer so the Moffat County Road and Bridge Department can complete other work around the site. But, that might be a bit unreasonable, he said.

“Nobody knows how big of a deal it is going to be,” he said.

Commissioner Tom Mathers agreed, adding he always thought the scrap metal would be worth something, but the commission “could never get it together.”

“We sat here and we’d say, ‘We need to do this, it needs to come off and let’s go look and see what we have to do,’” he said. “We’d walk in and it would be such a big project we didn’t know where to start. So we’d just turn around and walk back out … but I’m just tickled that we are going forward with it.”

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