Utah County commissioners will soon ask residents to either approve spending more than $15 million to expand the Utah County Jail or more than $19 million to build a new one.
The Jail Advisory Committee on Monday directed the commissioners to determine which of two possible expansion plans to submit to voters later this year.Earlier in the year the committee decided to have officials from Edwards and Daniels Associates, a Salt Lake architectural firm hired by the county, to design a jail that would house about 300 inmates. On Monday, the committee reviewed six possible designs and decided the two recommended to commissioners are the most feasible.
However, both plans have drawbacks. One would require the county to find and purchase about 18 acres and the other would require relocation of the Alcohol Recovery Center.
"No matter which option you choose there will be give and take. Obviously there's a lot of factors that have to be weighed before deciding which way to expand. It's just a matter of deciding which one works best for you," said Eric Migacz, an architect from Edwards and Daniels Associates.
One plan calls for construction of a new single-level jail on a new site. According to jail planners, the new facility would have the best jail operations system available today. The facility would have a central control area that has quick access and vision to all housing areas, the support areas and the intake area.
The facility's housing areas would make classification and management of inmates easy for jail administrators. The design also calls for a detoxification center, something planners say is necessary to keep inmate populations down.
For commissioners to choose this option, they must first find and purchase an ideal piece of property. Also, the $19 million price tag of this proposal does not include property costs. Some committee members said finding a location that would be suitable to residents would be difficult.
"That's a very long process and creates a great deal of discord in the community," 4th Circuit Judge Lynn Davis said.
One possible site would be the area west of the county complex on Ironton Hill. The county owns some of that property but would have to purchase the rest.
The second plan calls for spending about $15.5 million to expand the existing jail. New detention facilities would be built to the north of the existing jail and the current jail offices would be remodeled.
Like the other plan, this plan also calls for the construction of pods for more efficient inmate housing and a detoxification center.
However, because the housing units would be on more than one level this design would not have the same operations efficiency as the other plan. Inmates would be more isolated and circulation would be more complicated because of the multilevel design.
To build this facility, the county would have to relocate the Alcohol Recovery Center's four buildings, which are north of the jail. The center, operated by the Utah Alcoholism Foundation, leases the property from the county.
However, the center has seven years remaining on a 25-year lease. For the county to choose this plan, it would either have to buy out the lease or come to an agreement to relocate the center.
Commissioners said in the next three weeks they will research both options and decide which one will be the most viable. They will contact property owners to determine if there is land available for a new jail. They will also contact officials at the Alcohol Recovery Center to determine the options available on expanding the existing jail.
"We might have to change our mind after investigating this for two or three weeks," Commissioner Malcom Beck said.