Friday, August 26, 2005

Design of proposed jail to be reduced

New facility would be in Airport West subdivision


By MATT FURBER
Express Staff Writer

As Blaine County awaits judicial confirmation of a 20-year lease-purchase agreement for a new public safety facility to be built near Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey, the Sheriff's Office is working with the architects to keep construction costs within the proposed $9.5 million price tag. Rising construction costs have been blamed for the pinch.

For the 2005-2006 fiscal year, the county has budgeted about $600,000 for the new jail, sheriff's headquarters and emergency dispatch center. The amount would include the first lease payment if the funding plan is approved.

As part of that effort, Sheriff Walt Femling shared the latest design ideas with the county Board of Commissioners. He said part of the planned cost savings would come from shrinking the facility by 1,500 square feet.

"We're scrunching to save another $300,000," Femling said. "We're still in the schematic phase. It will ebb and flow a little now."

His office is working on the project with Lombard-Conrad Architects and Kreizenbeck Constructors, out of Boise. "Once we feel good about this design we'll let them go."

Proposed changes to the design include subtracting one bathroom, simplifying the lobby and reducing the size of secured areas in the building that need to be built with more heavy-duty and costly construction techniques.

Kreizenbeck is looking into the possibility of building the jail under LEED specifications, Femling said. LEED is an environmental building stamp of approval based on qualifying points related to elements like energy efficiency and reusable materials that could have environmental and financial benefits for the county in the long term.

Commission Chairwoman Sarah Michael said the county will have to make a decision soon about whether to pursue LEED certification.

Femling said his office was looking into ways to get a better LEED score. For example, he said reusing the beds from the old jail would help the county get a better review.

"We'll pick up a point everywhere (we) can," he said, adding that the main goal, however, is to keep costs in check.

The new jail would replace the old facility next door to the Old County Courthouse on Second Avenue in Hailey, which is routinely overcrowded and considered dilapidated.

In the mid-1990s, the county bought 3.23 acres on Aviation Drive in the Airport West subdivision in southern Hailey to build a jail and public safety facility. The site is the Blaine County Commission's preferred site for a new jail. The county received the public's support to go ahead with the proposal to build the facility in a 2004 advisory vote, which passed with a vote of 67 percent in favor of paying for the facility out of existing funds.

Michael said the county might have to pinch other parts of future budgets to keep the jail funding on track.

"We're trying to make the budget," Femling said. "We're doing things to get there."




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