New jail estimate is $7.5 million

Renovating current jail could cost $6.4 million

Staff reporter

The bids are in and it's official — a new jail facility is a better investment than renovating and adding to the existing jail.

That was the news presented to Marion County Commission Nov. 13 by representatives of the architectural firm Law Kingdon of Wichita.

The approximate cost of a new 78-bed jail facility and office space for the sheriff's department and dispatch at Marion's industrial park is $7.5 million. The approximate cost to renovate and build a new addition at the current county jail location on the courthouse campus for 68 beds and office space for the two departments is $6.4 million.

It was determined that there are numerous limitations at the courthouse site that included future expansion.

"Everything is built today with expansion in mind," Tony Rangle of Law Kingdon said.

Rangle also told the commission that the community may not want a massive, two-story jail facility near a library and in a residential district.

Starting from scratch

If a new county jail was built at Marion's industrial park, approximately four acres would be needed for the primary structure that would house 78 prisoners and offices for the sheriff's department and emergency services.

Rangle said he used information gathered from a study conducted by BG Consultants that indicated a 25-year projection of jail space needed for the county would not exceed 78 beds. Until the county needed the beds for county inmates, the plan had been to "rent" the beds to other counties for inmates.

At the industrial park location, housing could be expanded on either side of the primary facility for 50 to 80 additional beds and/or court services.

This type of planning could take care of the county's jail needs for more than 100 years, Rangle said.

Rangle presented two layout concepts for the facility and future additions — one was with the facility in a straight line, the other had the primary facility at an angle.

The 26,200-square-foot design was similar to the one the architectural firm designed for Sumner County which was a 123-bed, 38,000-square-foot jail and sheriff's department facility. Sumner County's emergency services department remains within the courthouse.

Marion County Sheriff Lee Becker asked if the new facility was designed to withstand Kansas storms. Rangle said the structure would be concrete blocks with concrete lids which would be a storm shelter which was another reason to relocate the county' dispatchers.

Currently Marion County Emergency Services is located on the second floor of the jail building. In case of damaging winds or tornadoes, the office would have to be relocated to a safer place in order to continue operations. If the new jail facility was constructed and dispatchers located in that building, workers would be in a safe and secure facility and could continue operations.

Rangle also recommended that the county have all cells and rooms wired for cameras even if all of the cameras are not installed at the time the facility opens.

Issues of building on to current jail

The architects and commission took a good, hard look at the renovation and building addition at the current jail location. A new addition of 17,203 square feet could cost an estimated $3.8 million. Renovation to the current jail could cost as much as $1.5 million. With other expenses, the total price tag was estimated at $6.4 million.

"It wouldn't be the same as a new facility," Rangle said.

Additional land would need to be acquired for parking.

Concerns were expressed about relocating inmates and offices while the building was being renovated and a new addition constructed.

If a new facility is constructed, offices that are located off the courthouse square could possibly be relocated to the jail facility with minimal improvements. If a courtroom and court services were constructed and relocated to the law enforcement campus at the industrial park, offices would have more room for providing services and storage.

The cost estimates do not include fixtures, furniture, and equipment.

The commission decided it would make contact with the City of Marion regarding land at the industrial park.