Jail renovation gets nod from commissioners

Delaware County Commissioners have given their approval for an expansion project at the county jail.

On Thursday, commissioners approved a contract with Shremshock Architects Inc. of New Albany, Ohio to start the design phase for alterations to the jail. The contract is not to exceed $49,000.

“One of the primary goals was to have a body scanner in our facility,” said Major Jeff Balzer of the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office. “We’ve actually been visiting other facilities around the state to look at the body scanners they have.”

Balzer said the body scanner was something the sheriff’s office has been considering for sometime, but, “We simply don’t have room for it right now. As is, a body scanner won’t fit.”

Balzer said the expansion isn’t necessary only to make room to accommodate the body scanner. He said the renovation includes consolidating all of the necessary functions of booking prisoners into one area that includes showers, a search room, uniform issue area, property storage space, and additional temporary holding areas. It would also afford more room for sheriff’s office classified personnel.

“This will help us to have a more efficient facility at the jail,” Balzer said.

Commissioners designated county Director of Facilities Jon Melvin as the project manager. Melvin said that Shremshock was chosen from the county’s list of prequalified architects.

“We engaged them early to look at the body scanner project,” Melvin said. “They started doing a little preliminary layouts for us to do a proposal. With that it came to light very quickly the inefficiencies in that area. Adding the body scanner would just complicate that.”

Melvin said they immediately saw that the project needed to be reevaluated as a whole and that renovation of the space was needed.

Though the project is in its preliminary stages of evaluation and design, Commissioner Gary Merrell asked what the project cost of the renovation might be.

“Their preliminary estimate was $480,000,” Melvin said. “We’re looking at a couple different projects at the jail. At this point in time, it will probably end up in next year’s budget.”

Assistant County Administrator Si Kille said, “it’s in this year’s budget.”

By D. Anthony Botkin

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D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.