After reviewing potential options presented by civil engineering firm Michael Brady Inc., to mitigate overcrowding in the jail, Loudon County Corrections Partnership Committee voted Wednesday to move forward with expansion on the Justice Center property.
MBI was brought on board in June to conduct a feasibility study on the jail’s current location to see if work could be done on the property.
Jail committee member Leo Bradshaw, who also serves as one of two members in the committee on Loudon County Commission, said the contract was for $15,000 to conduct the study.
“The property is suitable to use and it could be used for a small addition or it could be used for a large addition,” Bradshaw said. “We’ve got room and acreage to do what we need to do out there.
The recommendation of the civil engineer was to use that (eastern) side. It was less expensive and less excavation would cost, so we will use that side whichever way we go as far as the size of the addition and that kind of thing.”
The options MBI presented to members were of a facility to be constructed toward the back of the building where the helipad is currently placed and eastward toward the Loudon County Fire & Rescue Squad Sugarlimb location. Members also reviewed the possibility of tacking on courtroom space and additional parking at a later date.
“It’s really jail cells, and, of course, there’ll be discussions as to ways to use the existing space that’s underneath where the jail cells are now in the existing building,” Bradshaw said. “There’ll be discussions on how to use that space because there could be some possibilities there of some additional space for maybe some court use or probate or something. We haven’t got into in-depth discussion about that yet.”
Will require more moves
Loudon County Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw said if the county went with expanding to the right of the facility, the Loudon County Fire & Rescue Sugarlimb location would have to be relocated to make way for construction.
“Well that’s one of the challenges with that one (is) we would look to relocate the rescue squad and maybe get them in a little bit more up to date building and use that property there,” Mayor Bradshaw said. “Of course, that comes into negotiation with the rescue squad too.”
Sheriff Tim Guider said jail committee members discussed potentially moving the rescue squad to where the helipad is located.
“The jail, they ruled out adding on putting the jail down toward the helipad,” Guider said. “I mean it’s not feasible and it’s — but you could — the only real way is going east toward the rescue squad building and that’s with everything. But then you would have to demolish the fire rescue and relocate them and then the discussion was to put them down maybe at the helipad area, build them a facility down there.”
Mayor Bradshaw said “hard numbers” haven’t been given yet, but they should be available once an architect is announced and begins work on the project. The plan is to get requests for qualifications from potential architect firms sometime over the next week or two, he said.
Leo Bradshaw said he would like to have an architect announced soon so that the firm could be at the next jail committee meeting, which is scheduled to take place at noon Sept. 23 at the Justice Center.
“Our plan is to advertise the RFQs next week and actually have the responses back from the potential architects by the next meeting on the 23rd of September,” Leo Bradshaw said. “At that point we’ll listen to presentations. Hopefully at the (Sept.) 23rd meeting we’ll get into listening to some of the presentations from potential architects and make a decision shortly thereafter.”
Guider said he found it “encouraging” the jail committee has made progress in resolving jail overcrowding, but he “hesitantly” voted yes because there still remained some questions unanswered.
“I mean there’s basically just one way we can go here and that’s to the east,” Guider said. “My only fear, and again I’m looking out for the future ... generations and to where the burden’s not put on the next generation or two that have to make these same decisions or have to — because this would be the last time you would be able to do anymore to this site.”