County may consider other locations for new jail facility

Staff reporter

Where will a new Marion County Jail be built?

Maybe not in Marion city limits if Marion city officials don't show more interest.

The commission discussed options at the Jan. 22 meeting regarding a possible location.

Commissioners Randy Dallke and Dan Holub had attended a Marion City Council meeting several weeks ago to discuss options. The location in the city's industrial park that was recommended by the county's architect was not where city councilmen wanted it to be. Suggestions were made at that meeting to locate the jail facility on South Third Street which would be closer to the courthouse, but was not feasible.

"Those four acres south of town . . . isn't an option because it would hem us in with no room for expansion," Holub said.

Efforts were made by the county to have City of Marion officials attend a county commission meeting to discuss options but county clerk Carol Maggard told the commission that when she contacted city administrator David Mayfield, she was told that the council was not going to come to a commission meeting to discuss possible land acquisition.

Other frustrations expressed by the commission was the lack of response from the city regarding the possibility of the Marion Police Department sharing office space with the Marion County Sheriff's Department.

Acreage in the south end of the city's industrial park was offered to the county but no price was mentioned. No other parcel of land, besides the one on South Third Street, has been presented to the county for consideration.

Holub said another frustration was the misconception of the jail project being economic development.

Non-elected Marion residents recently commented at a city council meeting that the jail facility isn't economic development and would be a waste of land that could be used to generate tax revenue.

"This project isn't designed as economic development. We've got business to take care of and this offers tax relief," he said.

The commission continues to be somewhat baffled that the City of Marion has not jumped at the opportunity.

"So, here we sit," Holub said. "We need land to get going and if they (the City of Marion) are not willing to commit, we'll go somewhere else."

The commission instructed Maggard to contact the city and ask to be placed on the city council's agenda for an upcoming meeting.