Judicial/Police/Jail complex will have open house tonight

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By Jennifer Garcia

Public Works officials are hoping that plans to develop the new Judicial/Police/Jail Complex by Ashley Pond will be one step closer to becoming a reality after they present their design development update to County Council during a special session next week.

The project originated nearly five years ago to address a myriad of problems plaguing the police department and the municipal and district courtroom.

For example, the existing police building was built in 1977 and does not meet current standards.

The municipal and district courtroom has been vacated from the existing Municipal Building and needs to be replaced because it lacks security features such as a metal detector and X-ray machine.

In addition, the operating costs for the police department to transport and monitor inmates for trials would increase if the three courts — Municipal, District and Magistrate — are separated, resulting in the need to hire more police officers.

The project will also address the shortcomings of the existing police building in regard to energy efficiency standards and allowing the highest uses of the building and the police departments’ staff.

Project Manager Victor Martinez said that the benefit of constructing the new jail and courtroom, as an addition to the existing police building is that there would now be a secure path from the jail to the courthouse, when transporting prisoners.

According to Finance Director Steve Lynne, the fact that three different judicial entities are working together is rare, and the willingness to share the use of a courtroom and share space, is a model for other judicial complexes in the state.

Funding for the project is coming from a special one-eighth correctional facility GRT tax increment that was passed by the Council and became effective July 1, 2006. To date, approximately $4,000,000 for use toward the project has been collected. Bonds that have yet to be issued will fund the remainder of the project.

The schematic design for the judicial, police, jail complex was originally presented to Council in 2007. Since then, many changes have been made to the plans.

Some of the changes include relocating the existing generator; adding domestic water pumps; adding pumps for fire protection; adding a pump for the mechanical room; relocating the 4-inch gas service line; changing the Trinity side site improvements to meet new downtown requirements; changing the foundations to drilled pier after additional soil investigation; adding a screened, recycle dumpster and adding a screened wall at the west parking lot.

The 30-percent design development stage was presented to, and approved by, the Council in February.

On June 13, the county decided to provide additional time to short listed proposers to the RFP for Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) to prepare their initial guaranteed maximum price.

The IGMP was then extended to July 7, with interviews being conducted with proposers the week of July 9. The contract award was then changed from the July 29 council meeting to a special session of council to be held Aug. 21 in Council Chambers.

The Public Works Committee will host an open house from 6-7:30 p.m. tonight in Council Chambers to view the plans at the 60-percent design development stage.

“We want to make sure that everyone is comfortable with the changes that were made,” said Julie Habiger, county communications and public relations administrator.

Posters showing renderings of the proposed complex will be on display, in addition to materials the contractor intends to use in the construction process.

The public is invited to voice their opinions on the project during the open house.