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Dept. of Correction asks for funds to address needed prison repairs

Delaware Public Media

Lawmakers on the Bond Bill Committee heard from the Department of Correction about its growing maintenance backlog.


The DOC is seeking over $12 million in capital funding next year..


Some of that money will complete upgrading cameras at state prisons and address the infirmary at Howard R. Young, which has outgrown its population.


Commissioner Claire DeMatteis also pointed to a maintenance backlog, identifying nearly $18 million in additional projects DOC will need funding for in coming years.


State Sen. Jack Walsh (D-Ogletown) says he works security systems, and DeMatteis’ backlog raises alarms.


“I know commercial projects that we do where the doors, it’s ever changing, the technology is always changing,” Walsh said. “And if you’re not up with technology, it’s subject to failures.”

DeMatteis agrees replacing aging doors across state prisons is important. She adds that new generators are needed at Vaughn Correctional Center, noting that the state’s largest prison gets its power from multiple sources which increases the chances of a power failure.


Lawmakers were also briefed on a request to switch to an all-digital file system. DeMatteis says DOC still uses all paper files and switching to a similar system to the one DNREC uses would save money and time.


The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control also presented its $45 million capital project request to state lawmakers Wednesday.


It included over $22 million as part of Gov. John Carney’s efforts to improve access to clean water statewide


But much of the discussion centered around shoreline management, and $5 million DNREC wants for dredging and other shoreline projects.


State Sen. Nicole Poore (D-New Castle) was among the lawmakers concerned about the slowness of dredging projects.


“You know, our waterways are a great economic driver for a lot of people in the state of Delaware,” Poore said. “And we wanna make sure that they have access to do that.”


DNREC secretary Shawn Garvin says some neglected beaches, such as Bowers Beach, were traditionally managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, but some of its funding for Delaware’s shorelines was pulled.


That could leave DNREC to take over dredging projects, which would require more state money and resources.


Garvin adds development along the coast is also an issue, leaving less space for mud and sand to be dumped after it’s dredged from Delaware Bay.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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