Wayne County Executive Warren Evans gave his annual State of the County speech last night. He talked about progress the county has made toward addressing unsustainable legacy costs and improving county services in recent years. He also said billionaire Dan Gilbert’s plan to build a soccer stadium on the county’s stalled jail site in Downtown Detroit and help build a new jail elsewhere must be improved before the county will accept it.
Evans joins Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today to discuss the State of the County speech.
“I think we’re in much better shape obviously than we were two years ago,” Evans says.
Two of the things that Evans attributes some of this improvement to are bond rating increases and aggressively paying down unfunded liabilities. However, he says there is no painless way to make those improvements.
He also says it is a real possibility that the downtown jail construction site could become Rock Ventures’ proposed soccer stadium.
“By the beginning of May, Walsh Construction Company that is responding to our RFP to build on the existing site will give us their proposal, with cost,” Evans says. “Rock Ventures has got to do the same thing… The Rock Ventures people know that we have been trying to finish this jail for 18 months.”
Evans says there are advantages to the Gilbert proposal. Rock Ventures would handle the construction and — if there are cost overruns — the company would absorb them. The county has $300 million for the project, Evans says, and the proposal for this site has to fit the budget.
Evans reminds people of the reason why construction began for the jail initially.
“We have two jails that are not fit for prisoners, officers, or families to come to,” Evans says. “The idea of building this jail would be able to eliminate the other two.”
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation, or watch Evans live in studio on the video below.