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No jail in my backyard - residents opposed

Petition presented to city council, see story, page 14

Staff writer

Marion residents Pat Smith and Elaine Pfeiffer presented a petition Monday to Marion County Commission, opposing the location of the new county law enforcement and emergency management facility.

Commissioner Randy Dallke asked the residents what the reason was for their concerns?

“I’m concerned about property values and having a jail right across the street from where we live,” Smith said.

“A jail is a jail regardless of the way it looks,” Pfeiffer said.

Commissioner Dan Holub said that the property across from them on North Roosevelt Street is zoned an industrial park and is an acceptable use for industrial development.

“I understand your concerns,” Dallke said. “We’ve seen three or four facilities and it will not detract from the existing properties.”

Smith stated she also was concerned about the county transporting prisoners from the jail to the courthouse. She didn’t understand why a new jail couldn’t be built at the current jail location. Dallke responded it wasn’t feasible.

Orville Pfeiffer, who accompanied the women, asked how it was determined to have a 72-bed facility?

“We determined that it would take the same number of employees for 20 prisoners as it would for 70 in a new facility,” Dallke said. He continued that revenue from additional bed space would help the county with operational costs.

Smith said she and her husband built their house at the North Roosevelt Street location, having no idea there was going to be a jail across the street.

“If this was going on your block, … you wouldn’t be happy either,” she said, pointing to each commissioner.

The question was asked if the jail facility could be built along U.S.-56, away from the residential area. Holub said that land was not available to the county.

“The city won’t sell it to us,” Holub said.

Smith also expressed concerns about the type of criminals that will be brought in from other counties. She was assured that the county could specify the type of prisoner it wanted to house.

“We’ll be hauling them down residential streets when we take them to Chase County,” Holub said, referring to a possible solution if the bond issue doesn’t pass.

When the commission commented that the current jail is in a residential area, Smith said it was OK where it is now because it’s always been there.

“This is something different (moving it to the industrial park) and I’m against change,” Smith said.

In other jail-related business:

  • If the jail bond issue passes, the commission has decided to spend $550,000 budgeted for a construction manager at-risk. One of the responsibilities of the construction manager is to keep costs within the budget.
  • Final tweaking was completed regarding the question that will appear on the November ballot for a one percent sales tax and bonds for the new facility.
  • A series of public meetings are planned to listen to public input about the new proposed facility. A second series will provide the answers to questions with designs and facility plans. Architect Tony Rangel of Law/Kingdon, Inc. of Wichita, recommended the series as a way to allow public comment and for the commission to provide information pertinent to the project.
  • A three-fold informational flyer will be printed and distributed throughout the county. The commission determined at Monday’s meeting that the most cost effective way to distribute these flyers would be through the four newspapers that are located in the county. Total costs for printing and inserting are $1,515; $2,452 is the total cost for printing and mailing.
  • The commission sifted through the proposed plans, item by item.

Last modified Sept. 10, 2008

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