The partially-completed new juvenile hall facility sits between the Eureka Dog Park and the old General Hospital site on Tuesday. (Shaun Walker — The Times-Standard)
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A major construction project for a new Humboldt County juvenile hall in Eureka was expected to be complete in April, but six months later, the project appears to be dead in the water.

The county recently began “serious discussions” with the project’s contractors on the new building’s status, county Public Works Director Tom Mattson said Tuesday.

But the contracted company, Hal Hays Construction, Inc., notified subcontractors on Tuesday that all construction work is “terminated” until further notice, according to a document obtained by the Times-Standard.

“We will be in contact with you within 20 business days with further information,” reads the memo, which is signed by Hal Hays President Jeff Geist.

A representative from Hal Hays did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Currently, the new juvenile hall is only partially constructed. The old one, which was slated to be razed for the building of an outdoor recreational area, still occupies part of the lot.

Mattson assured the Times-Standard the facility will be built all the way through.

“There are steps we have to go through, the first being sitting and having discussions,” Mattson said. “The project will be completed, one way or another.”

Announced last April, the completed 19,000 square-foot juvenile hall is projected to house 30 beds. Its design is intended to bring the juvenile hall in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Construction on the juvenile hall began in April 2017, but is now delayed. (Humboldt County — Contributed)

Bill Damiano, the former chief of the county Probation Department, said in April 2017 the building’s layout will feature a “warmer, more therapeutic” atmosphere than the old facility.

But the project was expected to be complete in April, with the recreational space fully built by August. Mattson declined to provide a timeline of its completion and gave no details on the discussions between the county and the company.

“It’s upsetting to hear that the project is not going through right now,” said Eureka City Councilmember Austin Allison. “We need to find any and all ways to foster youth and encourage people to get past adverse youth experiences.”

Councilmember Kim Bergel said the lot is “principally permitted,” meaning all of the area’s zoning responsibility falls outside the city’s jurisdiction. The county oversees the project.

“Hopefully, it’s nothing crazy,” Bergel said of the reasons behind the project’s delay. “We need a new juvenile hall.”

Shomik Mukherjee can be reached at 707-441-0504.

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