County Commission hires Treanor Architects to study jail expansion

Treanor Architects has been hired by the Douglas County Commission to research what specific needs must be met if the county jail were to be expanded.

County officials have said rising inmate populations and a greater need to provide mental health services will necessitate an expansion of the county jail in the next three years.

Wednesday, commissioners hired Treanor Architects to begin a several step process that could eventually produce concept, architectural and engineering designs.

Since the idea first went public this summer, stakeholders have not given an estimated construction cost, nor has a funding mechanism been determined. The assessment process will provide better clarity on the price tag, Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern said.

The county budgeted $250,000 for 2015 to house inmates in other county jails. County Administrator Craig Weinaug also said in August that the inmate population is expected to increase 7 percent per year.

The assessment will involve evaluating the client type that would benefit from access to a mental health “court” or “crisis intervention center” and project how many individuals may be diverted to those facilities. A study of how other detention centers use mental health wards and the required staff needed will also be conducted.

Those studies will cost the county up to $184,650 and will take around a year. Daniel Rowe, the president of Treanor Architects, said commissioners can call it off at any time.

Should the county continue to pursue construction after those studies are complete, Treanor Architects will provide architectural and engineering designs to begin a construction bidding process.

All three commissioners approved the proposal.

“I think it’s awesome,” Commissioner Mike Gaughan said. “It’s exactly the kind of questions we should be asking.”