Douglas County Commission to consider moving ahead with jail expansion design

photo by: Mike Yoder

Douglas County Jail

On Wednesday, Douglas County commissioners will consider authorizing architects to do additional work on the Douglas County Jail expansion at the same time the county is reviewing the project’s scope.

The item on the commission’s consent agenda would amend Treanor Architects’ contract to design the jail’s expansion so the firm can complete more design work while developing firmer cost estimates. Treanor has completed four of five phases stipulated in its jail design contract with the county. Wednesday’s agenda item would authorize Treanor to complete the first two of the five categories that make up the fifth and final phase.

The new work would develop schematic designs for the jail expansion and complete its design development. Dan Rowe, principal with Treanor, said the design development work would provide the designs of the mechanical, plumbing, electrical, structural, security and other systems needed for the project.

Design development details would allow Treanor to make more accurate cost estimates than the cost-per-square-foot estimates that schematic designs produce, Rowe said.

County Administrator Craig Weinaug and Rowe said accurate estimates would be critical when the county does advance a referendum on the jail expansion.

Work on the schematic design and design development would be done in conjunction with the county revisiting the assumptions on the number of beds needed with expansion.

At a town hall meeting in January, Rowe presented preliminary footprints and conceptual renderings of the jail expansion, which would add 120 beds to the existing 187-bed facility at an estimated cost of $30 million. In April, the county commissioners agreed it wasn’t possible to put a ballot question on how to pay for the jail expansion before voters in November because of the amount of work yet to be done. That unfinished work included that which was assigned to the Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, formed in March.

At the first four meetings of the coordinating council, staffers from the sheriff’s office, district attorney’s office, county courts and court services have reported on a number of pilot or proposed programs that could influence jail population numbers. Those include pilot programs for a mental health court, ankle bracelets as an alternative to incarceration and the use of more personal-recognizance bonds for appropriate inmates.

Should the amended contract be approved as written Wednesday, Treanor would receive $518,000 for completing the schematic designs and design development.

In other business, commissioners will consider an amendment to the East Hills Business Park protective covenants and restrictions, which establishes new guidelines for the selection of the park’s board of trustees. Weinaug said the proposed changes have been on the table since the 1980s and were to be approved when private sector companies owned the majority of property in the park. That threshold was reached a couple of years ago, and private interests have stepped up to take on the added responsibility, he said.