Douglas County staff to seek consensus from commission on design plan for jail expansion

photo by: TreanorHL via Douglas County/Contributed Image

This design plan, first shared with the Douglas County Commission on Jan. 16, 2019, shows options of adding a south tower and a separate wing for re-entry programming at the Douglas County Jail.

County staff hopes to get a consensus from Douglas County commissioners on updated design plans for an expansion of the local jail.

On Wednesday, at its 6 p.m. meeting time reserved for items of public interest, the commission will hear an update from Interim County Administrator Sarah Plinsky and Undersheriff Gary Bunting on the Douglas County Jail expansion project.

“(Commissioners have) asked for continued opportunities to talk about the project, and this is really an opportunity for them to talk about the project,” Plinsky said.

The presentation Plinsky included in the meeting agenda contains the same overview of the project that she presented at the Jan. 16 meeting, with the addition of the next steps: “Staff and the design team need consensus on this design concept to proceed with design development.”

The revised plans are for a scaled-down design with preliminary cost estimates in the range of $23 million to $25 million. The design includes options of adding a south tower and adding a new wing for inmates in re-entry programs and who are eligible for work release.

The plan would meet the four goals commissioners have previously outlined: to meet immediate needs and bring back the Douglas County inmates who are currently housed in other counties’ jails due to overcrowding; to restore space for re-entry and work release programs; to allow for safe classification of inmates based on security needs; and to build a “financially sustainable solution.”

At its 4 p.m. meeting, the commission will hold public hearings on the option to use a construction manager at risk, or CMR, delivery method for some housing components of the planned behavioral health campus and for the jail project.

For a CMR, the county would hire a general contractor who would be in charge of managing all the subcontractors involved in a project and who would present the county with a guaranteed maximum price for a project. The county has used the CMR method for several projects, but state statute says it must go through various procedural steps to consider an “alternative” delivery method, or anything other than design-bid-build.

If commissioners then approve the CMR method, county staff can issue requests for qualifications and proposals for construction managers for both projects.

Neither approving the CMR delivery method nor coming to a consensus on design development would constitute final approval of any expansion projects, the presentation notes — the steps “allow staff to continue with the process.”

In other business at its 4 p.m. meeting, the commission will consider a request from the Douglas County District Court to approve hiring a programmer who would be tasked with providing statistical caseload analysis for judges and commissioners. According to a memo to the commission, the information would assist with the efficiency of the courts. The position’s salary and benefits come to an estimated $72,330.

The commission will meet at 4 and 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. Complete agenda materials are available online at, and audio recordings will be posted after the meetings.

• • •

Related stories:

Undersheriff shares preliminary plans that would add a minimum of 84 beds to county jail, Dec. 12, 2018

Cost estimate for pared-down Douglas County Jail expansion is $23M, Jan. 16, 2019

Contact Mackenzie Clark

Have a story idea, news or information to share? Contact schools, health and county reporter Mackenzie Clark:


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.