"It may not be perfect," one Buena Vista County Supervisor said to the deputy sheriffs lining the back row of chairs for a public hearing on the newly-drawn Law Enforcement Center, "but it's a helluva lot better than what you have today."
The preliminary design shown for the first time this week is a marked change from one supervisors originally signed off on.
Due to subsoil water worries, the jail building was redrawn from two levels to one. Due to budget worries, total square footage was cut down. And the communications center, which would move from the current courthouse location, has been drawn in.
Consultant John Hansen of Midwest Construction Consultants, said he has done what had to be done - but it's taken time that the project did not have to spare.
"All this was necessary to the project, but it has set us well behind where we wanted to be," he told a small crowd in the public meeting room of the courthouse. "I am concerned about what the delay may due to contractor prices."
It will take another 12-15 weeks for architects to draw up the final plans, Hansen said he was informed. "I told them to do better than that."
It is likely that it will be late May or early June before bidding can be done, and the county can't afford for any more delay, Hansen said.
Costs have been trimmed in several areas. One visitation wing area is gone, and more traditional visitation booths are cut down somewhat. A video area is eliminated, and the food service provisions are simplified. The number of single-occupancy male cells is also down. Hansen notes that the design is such that several of these areas could be expanded later if the county wishes.
The original plan would not have been possible within the county budget, Hansen said. The new design is expected to shave about $280,000.
He also said that the county may wish to look into Homeland Security grants for the LEC.
About 3 percent of the cost is in a contingency fund in case it is needed for some cost overrun or change order. If not, that can be used to add back some of the areas cut.
"We are not looking to reduce quality here," he said.
With the Comm Center now part of the project, the county has to start working with that department to determine the layout and equipping of the 1,500 square feet the dispatch nervecenter will occupy. One question, Hansen said, is whether the building will need to be fitted with emergency generator systems to keep the Comm Center operating in the event of a power problem.
The county will also have to decide if it wants to build a new communications tower at the facility, which would require a variance process.
"I have about 2,000 questions we should be asking," Hansen said. "But I recommend that the board approve the floorplan. It is urgent that we complete the design by mid-April."
Supervisor Lorna Burnside said the new design appears to have "less wrinkles" than before.
Hansen replied, "You are getting a whole lot of building for a very little amount of money."
Supervisors asked the deputies in the room whether they were "happy" with the plan. They said they had no concerns.
Supervisors passed the new layout 5-0.