Grand County needs Assessment Contract to Guide Jail Decisions

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by Tara Walker
Grand County Manager Lee Staab fielded questions during the September 25 Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting as commissioners discussed the $150,000 proposed Reilly Johnson Architecture (RJA) Grand County Needs Assessment contract. The County’s Strategic Plan identified infrastructure needs for a new jail or a possible consolidated public safety facility. A consolidated facility could include the Sheriff’s office, a jail, dispatch, EMS and Social Services and there has been much discussion about the possible location of new facilities and whether the county is best served by building in Hot Sulphur Springs or possibly Granby. Commissioners would like to see a new jail by 2023.

Commissioner Manguso repeated multiple times that she wanted Hot Sulphur Springs to be the only location considered. Manguso wanted consolidated and independent sites to be in the study, “I’m dead set on this staying in Hot Sulphur Springs. This is our County seat. I’m not in favor of even considering Granby for the jail.”

Staab responded, “I have a great deal of respect for the desire and your belief that this needs to remain in Hot Sulphur Springs. I respect that, but before commissioners make that decision, I’d ask you to look at all the variables that need to be considered.”

Staab used the public safety facility as an example and explained one variable, “If you look at the time to transport a person that is arrested and the time on the road spent doing that and the different agencies using facilities and time of transport, we may find out that we are spending a great deal of effort to have the facilities in Hot Sulphur vs somewhere else.”
Manguso countered, “It may take more time initially, but when they need to go to court four times, transporting to the judicial center is going to far outweigh disadvantages of initial transport. Kremmling PD would take more time to go to Granby. The town (Hot Sulphur Springs) is very receptive to whatever we need to do to keep it in this area.” Commissioner Manguso also emphasized she would like to see it go to a public vote.

Commissioner Linke emphasized that the Needs Assessment was important. He explained that commissioners may decide on Hot Sulphur Springs, but we need the information to support any decisions and that the study may even strengthen the decision to stay in Hot Sulphur. Linke, “Doing nothing costs us no money today, but would cost us a lot of money later.”

Commissioners discussed possible ways to reduce the $150,000 study to $100,000 if possible and whether it was a good use of money to fund the comprehensive study. Commissioners feel it is expensive but want to get the right information to get the best decision. They plan to use the data from the Needs Assessment to make decisions within the next couple of years and allow voters to decide.

Staab explained that there is a big need to assess the current facilities and plan for growth in the county. Staab, “There are several facilities that have issues associated with safety and we have outgrown some facilities. The jail has flooded and experienced fire. Are these facilities the best that we can do for the employees and citizens?” look at reusing facilities during the study, but many times those existing facilities that are not safe for occupancy will often be used for storage. After they evaluate the sites, RJA will provide preliminary designs based on the different sites with a rudimentary floor plan based on requirements. RJA will evaluate costs and look at existing facilities as well.

Linke said, “We know there is problem at these facilities. If we say no to information and if we sit here as representative government and make those decisions, are we feeling like we can make a good decision without this Assessment?”

Discussions will continue before deciding on a contract. Budget hearings are ongoing as departments present to the Board and commissioners discuss with Manager recommendations. Fee change hearings and rebuttals will be heard in the following weeks, with final budget determinations to be made in November with approval and signing early in December.

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