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Costs to build new jail heard

The Pierce County Jail Ad Hoc Committee heard Wednesday about the dollars and cents on a new jail’s cost. 

In addition, another curveball was potentially thrown into the county’s plans.

Eric Lawson from Potter Lawson and Kurt Berner from The Samuels Group, the two companies hired by the county to guide them through this step, reviewed the advantages and disadvantages of the six selected sites and how much it would cost to build on each site.

During the committee’s last meeting, Lawson proposed a new jail, jail administration and sheriff’s department which was slightly less than 44,000 square feet. That size was met with deep objections from county officials, who asked Lawson to get it closer to 27,500 square feet, the figure proposed by the earlier ad hoc committee.

Lawson said from interviews with the sheriff’s department and a second look at the maintenance configuration, he was able to trim it down to 32,700 gross square feet (in comparison, the ShopKo Hometown Store in Ellsworth is roughly the same size). Based on that, he and Samuels said the construction costs would be about $7.4 million for the building alone. Lawson said if the county chooses, mechanical alternatives could increase the square footage even more.

Lawson and Samuels stressed throughout their presentation the figures they gave were estimates, but added they were based on construction costs for 2014.

Grove Street

The building would have to be more linear to fit this site, located near the Blue Building. Its positives were proximity to the existing courthouse and public visibility. The negatives are it would have to be rezoned, it’s a confined site and the Blue Building would have to be relocated.

Speaking on those last two points, Supervisor Scott Bjork asked if it’s been discussed about expanding into the fairgrounds. Administrative Coordinator JoAnn Miller replied the county isn’t at that stage yet (Lawson and Samuels said they went off of property they were given). Bjork replied, based on his experience of tractor pulls, demolition derbies, etc….he can see the fairgrounds giving some of their grandstand space and not being a problem, possibly saving the Blue Building in its current location.

For site development costs, Samuels assumed, based on suitable soils, the county would be looking at a range between $10.4 million and $11.2 million.

For more please read the Dec. 11 print version of the Herald. 

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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