The site has plentyof room for future growth, officials say.
With the buzz of busy dozers and trucks in the background, Douglas County and Lawrence representatives gathered Tuesday to officially break ground on the new Douglas County jail.
County commissioners, together with Lawrence Mayor Bonnie Augustine, Sheriff Loren Anderson, representatives of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and others hoisted shovels of dirt during the groundbreaking at the project site, in southeastern Lawrence.
"This is one of those events you have mixed feelings on," said Al Hack Jr., a member of the chamber's board of directors. "You wish there wasn't a need to build this, but there is."
The $22 million jail is scheduled to be completed in early 1999. Utilities and an entrance road were added to the site within the past year, and actual work on the jail began Sept. 1, said Craig Killmer, the jail's senior project manager. Crews on site during the groundbreaking were excavating the basement and creating a pad for the building's lower level.
"It feels official now," Anderson said following Tuesday's event. "Now we can proceed to the next step, and that is to get ready to move in."
Until then, Anderson said his office will be busy finding and training the additional personnel needed to run the new jail.
With the new site, Anderson and others say one of the jail's main problems -- lack of room -- will be taken care of, hopefully for good.
One advantage of the new jail site, said Chamber President Gary Toebben, is its spacious environment. The jail will sit on 22.4 acres, bordered to the east by an open 50-acre lot owned by PDO Investors, a partnership involved with LRM Industries of Lawrence.
Steve Glass of LMR and PDO said the undeveloped land is zoned for light industrial business and is for sale.
"We'd be happy to have (the jail) expand there," he said.
The new jail will be located in the 3500 block of East 25th Street, south of Kansas Highway 10 and southwest of the LMR asphalt plant.