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Jail planning enters next phase

The next step was taken in the planning process for a new Douglas County Jail facility. After approving the completion of Phase I of the project, the county board accepted the recommendation of the Douglas County Criminal Justice Development Comm...

The next step was taken in the planning process for a new Douglas County Jail facility.

After approving the completion of Phase I of the project, the county board accepted the recommendation of the Douglas County Criminal Justice Development Committee (DCCJDC) last Tuesday to begin Phase II of the process.

As part of Phase I, a jail feasibility study was completed in November by Vetter Johnson Architects. The firm recommended the county select a "clean-slate" site that would be easily accessible to downtown, but at the same time, allow for future expansion.

Phase II of the process will involve selecting a site location and developing a plan diagram, staffing plan and preliminary cost estimate.

It will begin with re-interviewing the top three architectural firms from the initial jail study interview process. The three firms include Vetter Johnson Architects, Wold Architects and Klein McCarthy & Co. Architects.

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Each firm will be interviewed by the DCCJDC - the county board, county coordinator, two Douglas County law enforcement representatives and one City of Alexandria representative - during the week of January 17-21, 2005.

An architectural firm will be selected by the end of January based on qualifications, references, and approach and responses to interview questions.

Once the DCCJDC selects an architectural firm, Phase II planning will begin and will be completed on or before July 15, 2005.

At a cost of $28,000, Phase II consists of several tasks, including determining:

  • Jail space necessary for the immediate and 20-year need of county departments, beginning with a 120-bed facility expandable to 300 beds.
  • Goals for each department space and for the site master plan.
  • Three possible site locations with the recommendation of one site.
  • Concept floor plans drawn to scale.
  • Preliminary jail staffing plan.
  • Operational costs for facility and jail staffing.
  • Total expected project budget.
  • Exterior building elevations.

Although the county is also looking into the possibility of building a regional jail facility with other counties, it believes it is "necessary for us to move forward as if we are building on our own," said commissioner Dan Olson.
He said, "We have to build something. If we do it right, it will open up to other counties."

Board chair Bryan Withers said, "We're hopeful there will be more cooperation with other counties."

Douglas County Sheriff Bill Ingebrigtsen was a little more hesitant. "They [other counties] haven't stepped up to the plate yet, and I question whether they will. We have to move on," he said.

Commissioner John Mingus agreed that the county has to continue reviewing what it needs. After other counties see that Douglas County is "absolutely serious with the project," he believes surrounding counties will speed up their plans and join the process.

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