The Guilford County commissioners had their first meeting with new Sheriff-elect Danny Rogers and his input could be a factor in a potential big change in the county’s plans.
At a morning meeting on Monday, Nov. 19 in the Guilford County BB&T building in downtown Greensboro, Rogers told the commissioners that, after studying the matter, he did not want the county to move forward with its plans to renovate the old county jail in Greensboro and transform it into a new Sheriff’s Department headquarters.
Instead, Rogers said, he favored demolishing the old jail and building a new headquarters to house the administrative offices of the department that he’ll take over on Monday, Dec. 3. Commissioners have been debating for months whether to move forward with the proposed $17 million project or build something new at a price likely to be closer to $20 million.
Last week, Rogers and Commissioner Skip Alston discussed the renovation plans, and, at that time, Alston said, Rogers didn’t see any reason not to proceed. Alston said that, since then, county officials had provided the sheriff-elect with more information, which led him to favor building a new headquarters.
Alston, who was defending the old jail renovation project at a work session on Thursday, Nov. 15 said that, with Rogers now against the renovation, he was also against it.
“After speaking with Danny, I totally agree,” Alston said. “I’m fine with tearing it down and building a new building.”
Several other commissioners have also soured on the renovation project that now may be dead.
Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson, who also attended the Nov. 19 meeting, said county staff was still examining the cost of a new building.
“It depends on a number of things,” Branson said, adding that the demolition costs of the old jail will be one factor, and the future of the Otto Zenke building at 400 W. Washington St. will be another. Estimates of the demolition of the old jail are reportedly in the neighborhood of $1 million. Some commissioners also want to tear down the Otto Zenke building and use the space for parking while others consider it a historic property and want the building renovated and used for a different purpose.