State OKs $267 million for prisons, universities | NevadaAppeal.com

State OKs $267 million for prisons, universities

Prisons, handicapped access to the Nevada State Museum and a virtual reality research complex highlight the projects included in the $267 million in bond sales approved by the state Board of Finance on Thursday.

The list includes $96 million for prison projects and $53.8 million for university system projects as part of the 2007 capital improvement projects list.

Deputy Treasurer Robin Reedy said this is the first time the board has been asked to move this quickly on bond sales after a legislative session. Prison officials especially have been warning of the need for these projects is critical because of inmate overcrowding.

Overcrowding is most seriously affecting the female inmate population. To remedy that, the bonds will fund $36 million of the estimated $59 million needed to double the size of the Southern Nevada Women’s Correctional Center in North Las Vegas. That institution is getting some relief in the form of a 240-bed modular housing unit that will be ready for occupancy by January.

The list also includes Phase V of High Desert for $28 million and a conservation camp at Indian Springs for $22 million. Both those amounts are about half the total cost of those projects, but Deputy Public Works Board Manager Evan Dale said that is the amount he estimates can be spent in the coming fiscal year.

An Americans with Disabilities Act compliant entrance and connecting structure between the two buildings that make up the Nevada State Museum in Carson City will get an additional $2.8 million in funding. That project already received a $3.2 million appropriation but was put on hold because the actual cost came in much higher.

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When completed, the museum project will connect the two buildings and provide an elevator designed to look like the frame structures built to transport people and equipment into Nevada mines 100 years ago.

The structure will, for the first time, provide full disabled access to the museum.

“This solves the issue of one of the most prestigious buildings in state government, where we have to take the handicapped around and wrestle them onto a freight elevator,” said architect Robert Oxoby when the original project was funded in 2005.

The university projects on the list include completion of the Greenspun building at UNLV and completion of the Desert Research Institute’s CAVE virtual reality research complex.

The agriculture department’s new headquarters and lab is on the list for $15.8 million and $1 million in start-up money is included to design the weapons of mass destruction readiness building.

The board also approved $4.5 million in Question 1 bonds for state parks acquisition and improvement projects including work at Fort Churchill, Lahontan and Washoe lakes, Dangberg Ranch and several projects at Lake Tahoe, including work on the visitor’s center at Sand Harbor. Finally, it includes $3 million in cultural affairs grant bonding for a long list of work on historic structures in the state.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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