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Committee meets with two architects about jail

Staff writer

Two architects each told Marion County Law Enforcement and Public Safety Center Committee that jail space costs between $220 and $250 per square foot.

With basic layouts presented Tuesday, that would mean a 32-bed jail would likely cost between $3.2 million and $4.3 million.

The committee met with HMN Architects, Inc., of Overland Park, and Treanor Architects, P.A., of Topeka.

After the architects left the meeting, committee members said both firms seemed suitable for a possible jail project. Committee Chairman Danny Flynn said both firms presented minimalist designs.

“You didn’t see the Taj Mahal,” he said.

Both firms have worked with the committee for free up to this point, but any more work would certainly require a contract, he said.

The committee decided to wait until it has heard from the firms’ references before recommending an architect to Marion County Commission.

Bennett addresses removal

Harry Bennett, whom Marion County Commission removed from the committee Monday, spoke to the committee Tuesday. He told the committee his side of the events that led to his dismissal

“I feel like I was railroaded,” Bennett said.

He questioned whether the committee has the authority to meet in closed session, as it did when it discussed Bennett during a Sept. 9 meeting.

The committee can meet in closed session, because it has no final decision-making authority, Marion County Commission Chairman Dan Holub said.

Committee speaks with resident

Stan Thiessen, of Hillsboro, spoke to the committee about his concerns. He said he would like to know what a new jail would cost to operate before the committee moves forward any more.

Flynn said figuring operating cost is impossible until the county has a proposal. He said the committee has every intention of recommending a public referendum on any jail project.

“I’m very glad this will go to a vote,” Thiessen said.

Last modified Sept. 23, 2009

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