County explores six off-premise sites for building new jailDouglas County has all but ruled out the downtown site for its jail project, as commissioners instead reviewed six available properties Tuesday.
By: Erin Klegstad, Staff Reporter, Alexandria Echo Press
Douglas County has all but ruled out the downtown site for its jail project, as commissioners instead reviewed six available properties Tuesday.
The properties – all with acreage and in or near Alexandria city limits – were compiled by coordinator Bill Schalow, attorney Chris Karpan, and auditor/treasurer Tom Reddick.
Each commissioner will narrow the choices to three by their December 11 meeting. Project construction managers, Contegrity Group Incorporated, will then review each property to determine infrastructure costs.
“We’re only a year and a half from shutdown over here [the state-imposed deadline to fix the jail], so something has to move rather quickly,” said Commissioner Paul Anderson. “We’ve got a severe time crunch.”
To qualify for review, each property had to meet certain criteria, including being at least 20 acres, in Alexandria city limits or adjacent to it, and listed as for sale.
Here are the six sites that qualified:
• 91 acres along Highway 27 West and Interstate 94. The property is owned by Ben Zacher and is listed for $3.9 million, or $42,810 per acre, with Counselor Realty.
Schalow said Zacher is willing to discuss price and parceling if the county wasn’t willing to purchase the entire piece of property.
• 123 acres along Highway 27 West and Nevada Street. Also owned by Zacher, the property is listed for $1.95 million, or $15,815 per acre, with Counselor Realty.
Wetlands make up about half the property, which is reflected in its lower price. Its northeast corner is also located in the airport’s flight path.
• 28 acres on County Road 45 and Latoka Lane. Owned by Adolf Wagner, the property is $1.42 million, or $50,000 per acre. The owner is willing to talk with the county, although he has some reservations, Schalow said.
• 17.5 to 37 acres within 101 acres on County Road 82. Known as the Ferguson property, a master plan has been drawn up by Widseth Smith Nolting, detailing what the property could look like. A portion of the property – between 17.5 and 37 acres – could be designated for the jail project. Costs are estimated at about $1 per square foot (there are 43,560 square feet in an acre), but would increase if infrastructure was constructed prior to purchase.
Although currently unplatted, potential future developments on the property could include an armory, Lakes Area Recreation and athletic fields. The Alexandria Area YMCA will be building on the west side of the property.
• The Douglas County Fairgrounds, which includes about 60 acres owned by the Douglas County Ag Association and 18 acres owned by Douglas County.
The ag association is willing to discuss the possible options of a land swap or selling property; however, they want the city of Alexandria to be involved as well.
Karpan pointed out that the ag association would like a fee title to guarantee the fair won’t have to move when its lease is up in 2035.
• 29 acres along Highway 29 North. The property is owned by Rodney Jantzen and would cost about $2.15 million, or $73,883 per acre.
“He’s willing to talk, but it’s extremely expensive,” Schalow said, adding that the board previously looked at the property, but the owner wasn’t willing to sell at that time.
Commissioner Bev Bales commended the land search committee for “such a super job in such a short piece of time.”
However, she continued: “I know we’re now looking at an off-site location for a jail, but I’d for the record like us to hear from the city of Alexandria as to whether or not they concur with their DRT [development review team] committee’s requirements.”