News release from Rep. Cameron Sexton’s office:
Nashville, TN – Over the last few months there has been a lot back and forth about the proposed closing of Taft Youth Development Center in Bledsoe County. The Department of Children Services has maintained Taft needs $37 million in improvements to remain open.
A bipartisan coalition of legislators joined together to oppose the closing of Taft Youth Center. Senator Eric Stewart (D-Belvidere), Representative Jim Cobb (R-Spring City), Representative Bill Harmon (D-Dunlap) and Representative Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville).
A few weeks ago Representative Sexton asked Commissioner O’Day to provide an itemize list detailing the $37 million price tag for improvements.
“Yesterday, Commissioner O’Day and her staff sent the requested information to us outlining the cost to rebuild Taft. It appears from the information we received, Commissioner O’Day is more concerned about the rehabilitation of the buildings at Taft than the rehabilitation of the students. To demolish buildings simply due to their age is short-sighted and leaves me to believe there is much more behind her proposal than what is being stated publically. I think it’s time we get to the bottom of it,” Senator Stewart stated.
In the release of information from Commissioner O’Day, DCS stated that five Taft buildings would need to be demolished and replaced at a cost of $28,790,737.50 due to the age of the structures.
“I have toured the facility multiple times and I am incredulous to the department’s desire to demolish buildings based simply on the year the building was built. Using that rationale, we should demolish the State Capitol and rebuild it because it is old too, built in 1859,” said Sexton.
Note/Update: A Crossville Chronicle article on the matter is HERE.
The buildings that need to be demolished and replaced are the 1943 Dorms at a cost of $14,040,000, a1959 Administrative building at a cost of $1,140,000, a 1943 Cafeteria which would cost $2,125,000, a 1981 Security Special Unit Area at a cost of $1,125,000, a
1932 Medical Clinic which cost would be $1,595,000, a 1957 Auxiliary building at a cost of $2,340,000, and $1,700,000 for site development, paving and demolition.
Representative Bill Harmon stated, “These buildings have had major renovations since the 1980’s. It is hard to believe Taft would have been accredited in 2009 and continually passes fire inspections with so many buildings needing to be demolished and replaced.”
Both dorms underwent renovations in 1981. The administrative building had major renovations from 2000 to 2005, which included new doors, roof and a new heating and cooling system. Taft’s security special unit had high security doors installed in the 1990’s. The medical clinic has no problems and no need for replacement. The auxiliary was rebuilt and brought up to date in the 1990’s.
“We are calling on the Commissioner to open the (newly installed) doors of Taft to the media. We believe it is important for the media to be able to view Taft first-hand along with the legislators. As a state representative, it is appropriate and important to fight for what is right regardless of whom the fight is with,” said Representative Jim Cobb.