$ 187 million in needed improvements to the law enforcement complex

A consultant working with Midland County on a complex law enforcement master plan, including correctional facilities, recommends a range of improvements that could reach up to $ 187 million.

Burns Architecture told the Commissioners Tribunal that its recommendations and suggested priorities include that the county build:

  • A new prison in a new place. “Although it is more expensive to begin with, it offers the best, most cost-effective and long-term solution. This should be the county’s highest priority, ”according to the summary of the report presented to county leaders on Monday. Estimated probable cost: $ 124 million
  • New offices and courtrooms for justices of the peace, officers’ offices and a warrant office building on county-owned land adjacent to the existing law enforcement complex on South Main Street. Estimated probable cost: $ 16 million.
  • A new sheriff’s office. “Although slightly more expensive initially, it offers the best long-term solution,” the summary said. Estimated probable cost: $ 31 million.
  • A transition institution in mental health. “As of this writing, there are indications that the State of Texas is considering building a mental health facility in Midland. Further discussion regarding this facility should take place until more details on the state’s proposed facility are available, ”the summary said. Estimated likely cost: $ 16 million.

A representative for Burns Architecture told the court that the very preliminary figure of $ 187 million would not include land costs.

He recommended that the commissioners begin to put in place the process of a concept plan. With a concept plan, schematic designs and construction documents in place, the county would be ready to move forward. All three could take 12 to 15 months.

The main element of the facility is the prison. The summary presented indicated that the current prison “has many flaws and requires extensive renovation and expansion to accommodate the planned future capacity”. He also said the renovation and expansion of the current prison requires an estimated budget of $ 73 million (up from $ 124 million) and would take five to six years (up from three to four). It was also said the county would incur costs related to transporting inmates to and from other jails during the process of renovating the current Midland County Jail. Other potential problems would be obtaining the necessary land in this area south of downtown.

The recommended plan would allow the county to build a new prison that is more operationally efficient, capable of future expansion, and with a longer life expectancy. Potentially, 892 beds would be possible.

The study found that the sheriff’s office was “cramped,” “aging,” and needed about twice as much space as the current office. There are also parking issues, according to Burns Architecture.

“The renovation of the existing sheriff’s office and the construction of the additional building needed is estimated at 20 (millions of dollars) and would take four to five years,” the summary said. “Building a new sheriff’s office at a remote site has an estimated budget of $ 31 million and would take from two and a half to three years. “

The third priority for justices of the peace offices and courtrooms, police officers‘ offices and warrant offices would consolidate all three into one building, creating efficiencies according to the report.

“The construction of this new building… would take two and a half to three years,” the report said.

Likewise, a proposed mental health transition facility would take from two and a half to three years. “This is an entirely new concept intended to help the mentally ill and ease the burden on the county jail by placing mentally ill people who commit low-intensity crimes in an alternative setting and preventing them to be housed in prison, ”the report said.

There was not a lot of discussion on this point as it was just a presentation.

Ward 1 Commissioner Scott Ramsey made the following statement to the telegram reporter after the meeting.

“Several months ago, the Midland County Commissioners’ Court began the process of evaluating the law enforcement complex. With the growth of Midland County and the surrounding area, our prison population has grown. We have been pushing the limits of capacity for some time. In order to face this problem, we have mandated a firm of architects expert in law enforcement installations to design plans and programs for 20-50 years. This study includes the jail, sheriff’s office, justice of the peace / constables, and mental health transition facility. I want to stress that this is only a first study. More work is needed before we come to the citizens of Midland County with a proposed plan. Until then, we invite everyone to give their thoughts and contributions. Such projects are expensive and must be carefully considered so that we can meet the needs of today while looking to the future.

About Michael C. Lovelace

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