After putting years into the project of finding a new location to house inmates, Bourbon County is a step closer to constructing a new jail after making an offer on a piece of property in Fort Scott off E. 20th Street east of Highway 69 and behind the Shepherds Auto Group.
“I’m anxious to see if this is going to work for us,” presiding commissioner Barbara Albright said.
In a special executive session held last Thursday morning, the commissioners discussed the acquisition of about six acres of property and a building at 323 E. 20th Street for $200,000. The current business there will be required to close and leave within 60 days, while the county will be responsible for removing other equipment, storage containers and trailers located on the property.
The property is currently zoned commercial. Though an offer has been made, the deal will not be complete until after surveys and studies on the property are finished.
Architect Kevin Rost of the Goldberg Group met with the commissioners again Tuesday morning and showed them maps of the property displaying how the jail could fit on the property once existing structures and trees are removed.
“I’m glad we finally have a piece of property in the works,” Rost said. “I know it’s been a long time coming.”
But before ground can be broken, surveyors will come to look at the topography of the land, the boundaries and its property lines. An environmental study will also be conducted.
A geotechnical engineer will also be brought in to take soil samples and see what amount of rock is beneath the surface, which will determine the foundation of the structure and the cost of building it. Those services of the geotechnician could cost between $2,500 and $5,000, but a potential grant could help the county cover that expense.
“We’ll have to start with step one and then we’ll move forward,” Rost said of the project, saying it is a lengthy process.
From start to finish, the project should take about 12 to 14 months after a groundbreaking, depending on the weather as well as ground composition. A Universal Construction representative said he is concerned about staying within budget as construction prices rise, but Rost said if the county can offer some assistance, such as through grating, rock excavation or clearing the site, then they can cut some costs.
Rost assured Sheriff Bill Martin that though they will have to work to find ways to keep within budget, the jail will still have the space for 74 prisoners as well as an option for 16 more for a total of 90.
“I like what I’m hearing,” commissioner Lynne Ohara said. “I’m ready to get started.”