In December the Fayette County Board of Commissioners approved their Capital Spending Plan which will divide up the $4.4 million given to the county through the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

One of the key projects of that plan was the estimated $3.1 million to renovate the and repurpose the former Dollar General building now owned by the county.

The county has owned the building located on the 300 block of Central Avenue for years and has long looked for uses for it, but many of the ideas have been cost prohibitive.

ARP funding given to the county in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it feasible for the jail to be repaired and repurposed. The Capital Spending Plan approved in December will see the building turned into a jail annex, which will open up another 62 beds, and help to lessen overcrowding in the jail. It will also clear the way for the county to implement a work release program from women, which had previously not been available, and the county plan identified as discriminatory.

At the latest commissioners meeting, the board was presented the “design development package” by Scott Carnegie of DLZ consulting firm.

Carnegie said in the last few weeks architects from the company had been to the building to inspect its existing conditions. Carnegie also introduced Bill Stark from DLZ who also spoke in the presentation.

Carnegie said he would need to have approval from the commissioners before moving to the next faze in the projects development.

Stark said the existing entryway to the building would be shifted over, and a covered ramp between the new annex and existing jail. Stark said this was necessary for ADA compliance. This would close the alley behind the building to vehicles, though it could still be walked down.

Stark said the annex would be designed to Indiana state standards so it could house both men and women if need be.

“We’re upping the standard beyond what is really required for a work release,” said Carnegie. “So, that in the event, hopefully not anytime soon, should you ever have to capture that space for jail housing you could do that. We just feel like it would be prudent to go ahead and design that to Indiana jail standards.”

There is a state requirement for inmates to have at least a certain amount of daylight from a window where they are being held. To remedy this in the building plan Stark said they would install skylights and a security screen to reach the daylight requirement, and also make it more difficult for inmates to pick at, alter or damage windows.

Stark said DLZ is working to maintain a buffer between the cost of the project and the $3.1 million budgeted for it. This includes taking alternative bids for roofing.

“We never want to design a project that takes it right up to the maximum budget,” Carnegie clarified. “Just in case something happens and bids come up over, that’s never, I don’t want to be up here at this podium trying to explain that to you all.”

It had previously been discussed if it would be possible to upgrade the existing jail’s security system to go with and match that of the annex. This would make it possible to monitor both facilities from a central location. Stark said that could be done as part of the project, but would add roughly $200,000 to the price tag.

Carnegie clarified that DLZ would try to incorporate the upgrade into the $3.1 million price tag, but recommended that project be a separate contract with the company that will install the system ultimately.

Stark also gave a timeframe of the completion of the project, saying that the construction phase would be completed 10-12 months out if all goes as planned.

A concern that board President Dale Strong asked about was there has not been a phase 1 environmental site assessment done on the building, to which Carnegie said could be done, and comparatively to the total cost, done inexpensively at less than $3,000.

Carnegie said he was aware there was likely asbestos tile in the building and Strong said there was also mold he was aware of that would need to be cleared.

The commissioners approved this phase of the planning, with the understanding there would be further meeting with the Sheriff’s Department and others involved in the project to complete the design, and an environmental study.
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