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Jail plans proceed - slowly

ABOUT CAM Construction Analysis and Management Inc. of Brainerd has been in the construction management field for more than 20 years. It manages the time, costs and quality aspects of projects during pre-design, design, bid/award, construction an...

ABOUT CAM

Construction Analysis and Management Inc. of Brainerd has been in the construction management field for more than 20 years. It manages the time, costs and quality aspects of projects during pre-design, design, bid/award, construction and move-in phases.

The company specializes in educational, private, governmental/municipal and non-profit construction.

CAM is currently managing the Beltrami County Law Enforcement Center project, Crow Wing County Judicial Center project and an expansion at the Morrison County Jail, among others.

Douglas County has hired a construction management firm to help guide the jail and law enforcement center planning process.

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At a cost of $13,200, Construction Analysis and Management (CAM), Inc. of Brainerd will be working on the county's behalf with the project architect, Klein McCarthy & Co.

Three county representatives - commissioners John Mingus and Jerry Johnson and coordinator Bill Schalow - recently met with both.

"Both CAM and Klein McCarthy know what our parameters are," Mingus said Wednesday. "That's what they'll be working with."

The board wants to keep costs down as much as possible by building a facility that meets the needs of only Douglas County, not other communities.

In April, at a cost of $13,200, the board agreed to have Klein McCarthy proceed with Phase 3 of the project, which involves analyzing the feasibility of the current downtown jail location.

Together, CAM and Klein McCarthy will be focusing on three possible downtown options for the jail. They include:

  • Expanding at the present jail site.
  • Remodeling the former Central High School gymnasium into the jail.
  • Demolishing the pool and surrounding area and building a new jail on that site.

Costs for all three options will be presented to the county board by August 1.
Mingus was quick to point out, however, that the costs "may or may not be any different than [building at] a green site."

The county is now also looking at a scaled back facility - 120 beds (down from 200 beds) with an additional 30 beds for special needs inmates.

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"CAM gave us a couple of ideas that looked interesting as far as the downtown site," Mingus said.

And he's happy with the direction the project is heading. "We're still moving forward, slowly, and that's OK," he said. "This has all taken quite a while, and I'm not unhappy with that. It's allowed us to look at new options."

Because of that, Mingus is viewing the downtown site more favorably than in the project's earlier stages. That does not, however, mean "a green site will or will not be considered," he said.

Not all pleased

Not all are pleased with the way the jail project is progressing, however.

"It frustrates me that we continue to have costs," said Steve Sibell, jail administrator. "The fact of the matter is that the county is continuing to spend money on consulting, and we still really have no plan of action as to where we're going."

He would rather see the county decide on a location and then start working with CAM and Klein McCarthy. "It's a step that needs to be done, but I'm not sure that the timing is correct."

The only positive thing Sibell sees is that everyone "agrees there is a need for a jail."

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"What it is and where it is - that's all up in the air," he said. "It's the waiting that bothers me. It's ticking away every day and costing the taxpayers some real money."

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