Public Safety Building (copy)

The Public Safety Building, 115 W. Doty St., cannot withstand additional weight on top of the structure. 

The results of an investigation into the construction of the downtown Public Safety Building remain confidential until two Dane County committees can vote on whether to make the information public.

The Dane County Board of Supervisors asked for the investigation because original plans indicated the building was built to support additional floors, which is not the case today. Because of this, Dane County is pursuing a $148 million renovation plan for the jail that is nearly twice the cost of the original plan to expand the Public Safety Building. 

“I do believe the public should have a right to see the secret report and to see what's in it,” Supervisor Tim Kiefer, District 25, said. “I think it does have information in it that is important for the public to know.”

Dane County had hoped to build on top of the Public Safety Building as part of the major renovation project. However, the county learned in October 2018 that the building at 115 W. Doty St. cannot hold additional weight, though it was built in the early 1990s with the expectation that it could.

The Public Protection & Judiciary and Public Works & Transportation committees met in closed session Tuesday to discuss the county Corporation Counsel’s opinion on the feasibility of holding parties involved in the original construction responsible for building it in a way that did not support vertical expansion.

The resolution directed the Corporation Counsel and the Department of Public Works and Transportation to investigate the architectural firm, the general contractor, their insurers or any other responsible party and whether they could be held responsible.

Though Kiefer made a motion to make the confidential client report available to the public, Deputy Corporation Counsel Carlos Pabellon said the agenda did not provide notice of a possible vote. Chairs of both committees said an agenda item requesting action on making the report public would likely be on the Sept. 24 meeting agendas.

Public Protection & Judiciary Chair Maureen McCarville, who represents District 22, discussed the possibility of releasing a summary in lieu of the full report.

“What we’re trying to do is obviously protect attorney client privilege and then if the lawyers want to weigh in on that at all, we’ll certainly hear what they have to say,” McCarville said.

McCarville said the county will try to be “transparent as possible and put out as much of the information we have, so that people have a clear understanding — if there is one after all these years.”

Pabellon said he could not comment on if there would be a concern in releasing the full report as opposed to a summary without discussing what is in the report.

Supervisor Dave Ripp, who chairs the Public Works & Transportation committee, said he sees no reason why the report should not be released in full.

“As far as I’m concerned, we probably just open it up,” Ripp, who represents District 29, said. “There’s nothing earth shattering.”

Supervisors could not discuss what the report contains, but Keifer said the report follows what the resolution authorizing the investigation outlined.

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