BY SARAH GREGORY
A possible solution -- still in the works -- to the county's jail dilemma calls for construction of a jail and justice center downtown.
The proposal by architect Dave Wright will be explored by members of the Jail and Workhouse Committee and the full Greene County Commission.
A "rough sketch of a new idea" to construct a new facility adjacent to the Greene County Courthouse Annex in the area of Irish, Hall, Church, and Cutler streets was presented by Wright at Monday's commission meeting.
Wright was on the agenda to provide an update on the jail situation.
"We are at a crossroads," Wright told commissioners. "This is something we're going to have to take care of," he said of the crowded jail conditions.
Wright's proposal would consider construction of a facility across from the James H. Quillen U.S. Courthouse.
His proposal calls for a potential new facility in that area to serve as a justice center as well as a detention center. He said it could also include as many as four courtrooms.
Initial plans would be to construct a 384-bed facility.
The area has enough land, however, Wright said, to expand that facility to accommodate 768 beds.
A lower-level parking area beneath the building would provide parking for law enforcement and courthouse personnel, Wright said.
Wright called his presentation to commissioners a "schematic" of a new idea, noting that the proposal was still in the works.
He said that the solution would help ease concerns of individuals who would not like to see the detention center removed from the downtown area.
Land would have to be purchased for the new proposal, Wright said.
A detailed estimate of the cost of such a facility was not outlined, but Wright said such a project in the downtown area was estimated at approximately $37 million.
'WORTH LOOKING AT'
Greene County Sheriff Steve Burns also spoke briefly, telling commissioners he felt the idea was "worth looking at."
Burns reiterated his desire to solve the issues plaguing the Greene County Detention Center, saying, "I'd like to see us put a long-range plan together so no other commission has to deal with this again."
A NEW TIMELINE
After the update, commissioner Robin Quillen spoke to suggest putting in place a timeline for jail considerations.
Quillen said she thought it was time for the commission to "get off the pot" and suggested a timeline of action should be established for August or September.
Greene County Mayor Alan Broyles agreed, and added that the Jail and Workhouse Committee should hold workshops and work with the full commission to establish a solution by September.
During Wright's update to commissioners, he also reviewed results of a recent evaluation of the design, build, and finance teams competing for contracts to construct a potential new facility.
The evaluation compared two groups, each comprised of companies which provide architectural and engineering design, general contracting, and financing services.
Cope Architecture, Bell & Associates Construction, and Municipal Capital Markets Group, Inc. were compared with J.A. Street & Associates, Moseley Architects, JE Hodge Associates, LLC, Appalachia Design Services, Inc., and BB&T Group Capital Market Public Finance.
Criteria evaluated included:
* 20, 25, and 30-year lease terms;
* the number of detention/justice centers the architectural firms have designed;
* the number of detention/justice centers the general contractors have constructed;
* the number of detention/justice centers the financial partner has financed;
* time needed for preliminary design development;
* time needed for construction documents;
* when initial lease payments would be due;
* parties responsible for building maintenance during the lease period;
* projected cost of furniture, fixtures, and other equipment not permanently connected to the structure; and
* what party will hold the title to the facility during the lease term.
Upon reviewing some of the information contained in the evaluation with commissioners, Wright said he had contacted other counties and municipalities that have used the different design, build, and finance teams in the past.
He said all of the companies were given positive reviews from their previous clients.