The architect with whom the Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors has been working on a new jail, quite predictably, reacted favorably to the news that the City of Storm Lake Board of Adjustment had approved the county's plans for building a jail just north of Richland Street.
The Board of Adjustment Wednesday approved the county's application for a conditional use permit by a 3-2 vote, despite heavy opposition of residents of the MCS Addition to having a jail in their neighborhood.
In its approval, the Board of Adjustment laid down a number of conditions, including having the front of the building on Expansion rather than Ray Street, adjusting the cutoff angle of the lights so as not to disturb neighbors, dedicating routes other than Fourth Street for law enforcement, and landscaping.
"I think it's a great thing for the county since they already own the property," said Omaha, Neb., architect Rod Moore. "It's really going to improve the neighborhood considerably. We will put a fire hydrant out there which is non-existent at this time. Having the facility in that neighborhood is going to bring an added sense of security. I think it's great for the county and the city."
Moore also touched on the budget aspects of the county-owned site just north of the Richland Street Annex where the Buena Vista County Health offices are located.
"Budget-wise I think this is the best thingthe county could have had happen," Moore said.
"This allows us the opportunity to give the county far more money to work with than what they would have been able to without the property."
Moore said the next step will be to hold a series of public information meetings to inform the public about the jail project. Moore said he wants to "make sure the public knows it's not an ivory tower for the inmates. It's very basic."
Moore estimates the cost for the new 46-bed jail with room for expansion for an additional 16 beds would be about $4.2 to $4.5 million. The Buena Vista County Farm Bureau, which led a fight against the last jail bond issue five years ago, has gone on record that it wants to keep the cost for a new jail to $4 million.
Just as fuel prices have skyrocketed, Moore said construction costs, particularly for steel, shingles, and petroleum-based roofing, could increase in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Moore said bid specifications could be developed over the winter for a March bid letting. He said construction could take nine to 10 months with completion in December 2006. "It's very feasible we could do that," Moore said.
Getting funding is another priority. The issue would have to pass county-wide with 60 percent approval.