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Committee meets with architect about jail

Staff writer

Architects met with Marion County Law Enforcement and Public Safety Center Committee to obtain information for the design of a new jail Tuesday.

Marion County Law Enforcement and Public Safety Center Committee met Tuesday with architects to discuss jail issues in a preliminary interview.

Dan Rowe, president of Treanor Architects of Topeka, Andy Pitts, and Loren Anderson, a retired sheriff, met with the committee and county commission.

Rowe said he and Pitts specialize in designing jails, courthouses, and juvenile detention centers. The meeting was free of cost, and the committee plans to consider other architects.

Rowe shared what he called lessons learned about jail construction projects. He said site selection is a bigger issue than anyone ever anticipates.

It takes 350 to 450 square feet per inmate to operate a jail, Rowe said, and that includes items like kitchen and laundry facilities.

Offices are cheaper to construct than hardened jail facilities, Rowe said. That is because jail hardware must meet higher durability and safety standards.

The company designed a law enforcement center for Brown County, yet to be constructed. It will include a 41-bed jail, sheriff’s department, emergency management, and 911 dispatch, Rowe said. The estimated cost of the project was about $4 million, and bids came in at $3.1 million in June.

Brown County’s population is between 10,000 and 11,000, compared to Marion County with around 13,000. Brown County will pay for the jail with a sales tax.

“There’s no good way to finance it,” Rowe said.

There are costs other than construction, he said. Property acquisition, connecting utilities, and building permits can add to costs.

A committee member asked Rowe how quickly plans could be ready to send for bids if design parameters were given now. Rowe said bidding could begin before the end of 2009.

Committee members asked the costs to transport inmates. Anderson said as sheriff about 10 years ago, transporting 30 inmates to other counties cost about $450,000 in his final eight months.

Rowe said building now costs about 20 percent less than the same time last year.

The next committee meeting will be at 6 p.m. Aug. 11 at a place yet to be determined. Committee chairman Danny Flynn said he planned to have another architect meet with the committee for a similar interview.

Last modified July 16, 2009

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