Douglas County Commission to consider design contract for proposed $4 million jail maintenance project

photo by: Journal-World File Photo

The Douglas County Jail is shown in this Journal-World file photo from February 2015.

After deciding to only make repairs to the county jail rather than move forward with a controversial expansion project, county leaders will soon consider approving the updated design contract for the proposed $4 million jail maintenance project.

As part of its meeting Wednesday, the Douglas County Commission will consider a $63,500 addition to the professional services design contract with TreanorHL Inc. to cover changes to the design and documentation of the project. The original contract covered both the expansion and the repairs, and the amendment to the contract is required to account for the reduction of the project.

Last month, the commission indicated support for the maintenance project, which includes parking lot repairs, elevator upgrades, plumbing replacement, upgrades to the jail’s sliding detention doors and repairs at the jail’s central heating and cooling plant. All of the upgrades were originally included in the county’s $30 million jail expansion project, but that plan was discontinued in the fall, leaving the maintenance projects undone.

Commissioners have indicated they agree with county staff’s assessment that, as the jail’s age approaches 30 years, a number of original components have reached their life expectancy and require repairs or replacements to keep the facility fully operational. Estimates previously provided to the commission anticipate a total project cost of $4,022,174, which includes the $63,500 for professional fees to TreanorHL. The proposed amendment to TreanorHL’s contract states that the design work for the smaller project is largely completed but requires modifications to the construction documents because of the change in scope. That includes new bidding and construction administration services, among other services.

If the amendment is approved, another commission approval will still be required to move forward on the project, according to county officials. County Administrator Sarah Plinsky told the Journal-World that once the design work was complete, Turner Construction, the construction manager for the project, would come back before the commission to confirm the total cost for the maintenance work.

In other business, the commission will:

Consider initiating a text amendment to the subdivision regulations for Lawrence and the unincorporated areas of Douglas County. The amendment will align land division processes and standards with growth management goals for the city and county in the new comprehensive plan, Plan 2040.

Receive results of the 2020 Douglas County Employee Racial Equity Survey. Of the county’s 512 employees, 280 fully completed the voluntary questionnaire. A summary of the results states in part that the survey revealed consistent differences across race and ethnicity, including that staff of color were less likely to agree, when compared with their white counterparts, that their department was committed to and had taken steps to reduce racial inequities. The report says those differences will be important to take into consideration as Douglas County engages employees in racial equity efforts.

The County Commission will convene at 4 p.m. for its study session and 5:30 p.m. for its regular business meeting. The meeting will be open to the walk-in public at the county courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St., but a link for the public to watch live online is available on the county’s website, douglascountyks.org. Residents may also call in and listen by phone by dialing 1-312-626-6799 and entering meeting ID 934 6231 3227.

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