New jail talks continue at county

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Photo source: co.grand.co.us
Photo source: co.grand.co.us

by Tara Walker
On February 5, Reilly Johnson Architects gave a Needs Assessment Update to the Grand County Commissioners with detailed information about the current infrastructure in Grand County and some options and costs when considering solutions to address growth expected in Grand County. Executive Director of the Grand County Rural Health Network, Jenn Fanning, also gave a presentation explaining her analysis and recommendation to consolidate non-profits and other services in a co-located building for Health and Human Services in an effort to increase efficiency and save money.

Bob Jones with Reilly Johnson Architecture (RJA) facilitated the needs assessment and gave a presentation, RJA explained population growth in Grand County. The population of Grand County in 1990 was 7,966. The estimated population of Grand County in 2017 was 15,321. The population is expected to grow to 20,606 by 2040. With the increase in population, there is an increased inmate population.

The inmate population projections given by RJA were based on the Average Daily Population (ADP) trend from the Grand County jail from 2011 to 2018 (95 months of data). They also used the average rate of incarceration over the past two years which was 1.87 inmates per 1,000 county population. They took into account the average length of stay for inmates over the past 5 years, 13.82 days per inmate. In the end, RJA estimated inmate population in 2019 at 30 increasing to 35 inmates in 2028 and at 42 inmates in 2038.
With the facts pointing to a larger population and more inmates, they estimated the square footage would need to grow from 18,454 square feet to 49,065 square feet by 2028 to meet needs. With the new Jail needed, the next step RJA explored were options in Hot Sulphur where the Jail is currently as well as to consider a co-located building at other possible locations.

Bob Jones explained the first building solution was considered and dismissed. It didn’t make sense to temporarily relocate the Sheriff’s office and Judicial Center to demolish the existing site in so they could rebuild. It would be expensive, and everything wouldn’t fit on the current property anyway. They moved on to two other options in Hot Sulphur Springs.

One option (A) is to build on Moffat Ave and take up ½ of the parking lot. The ½ of parking lot still needed could be located two blocks away in the current impound lot. A tunnel under Moffat was also discussed for inmate transport into courtrooms. Jones, “Nothing is more compelling about staying in Hot Sulphur Springs than the ease of inmate movement, but it comes at a big price to make that connection happen and you can be the judge whether to make that investment.”

Another concept discussed (Option B) was to build on the current parking lot with no physical connection to Judicial Center and to relocate the parking lot two blocks away in the current impound lot. A car would have to be used to transport inmates. A Sally Port would not be required but could be built.

$32 million is the current estimate for the new sheriff law enforcement, detention and communication center in Hot Sulphur Springs. Jones stated, “This 32 million is not a minimum, I would say it is a maximum. These numbers are a start of construction around June of 2020 and is enough to get everyone’s attention that’s for sure. Does it have to cost that much, no. Could it cost less, sure.” Jones explained that 2 million could be saved by building without connecting over Moffat, which could include building on the impound lot 2 blocks away.

A larger consolidated or collocated campus was the other option considered and would mean doubling the square footage. Parking is a consideration and 226 parking spots would be needed. Jones claims a consolidated campus would save money related to conference rooms and storage rooms that could be shared. Stand alone or scattered buildings would be somewhat inefficient according to RJA.
Fanning gave data from a 2016 survey that showed 57% of Grand County respondents believed a co-located building would help them better access care. A co-located building could save 7-20% per year in operational costs while providing more efficient and effective wrap-around services. Fanning contended this option could also reduce barriers to care. She noted that Kremmling respondents to the survey were nearly twice as likely to mention barriers to medical services which increased the need to leave the county for medical services.

Fanning gave Aspen Mind Center in Cripple Creek as a possible example to look at for ideas. Boulder Community Health Center co-located witha jail and noticed a significant drop in mental health visits and crisis calls went up. She explained they realized their erorr and relocated the health center and moved the detox center next to sheriff’s department to have better results.

Looking at the big picture, Fanning said, “There are other entities out there doing their master planning such as East Grand School District and other opportunities to potentially look at buildings that might be sold to put a collocated building in. I urge commissioners and East Grand School District and anyone involved to look at all options. I won’t say the best option, but it all takes money, and we need to say to the community honestly, transparently and with confidence that we have looked at all the solutions and that this is the best solution for us and you and in order to leverage money in the best possible way.”

Hot Sulphur’s Mayor Bob McVay looked at the sample co-location model given by RJA and expressed concerns, “Didn’t the Boulder model show that mental health next to the sheriff’s department was a problem and why is that on this plan? I can see the need for a co-facility, but I think the mental health co-facility should be separate from the sheriff’s department.” He went on to explain that he didn’t see the rationale of moving to Granby as Kremmling residents would have to travel further and it wasn’t too much closer for Granby citizens.

Commissioners reassured attendees that nothing was set in stone regarding a site location Commissioners asked different Grand County organizations to speak to their facilities and the community populations they are serving.

Brene Belew-LaDue, director of Grand County Public Health explained the main public health building was built in 2000, but they have had flooding issues, heating problems, safety issues with blind spots and a dangerous ramp, “Our ramp is a playground for the kids in Hot Sulphur. They love the ramp on their bikes and skateboards and that scares me. They do it when we leave and when I am there, I try to keep them off it.” Belew-LaDue explained that the admin building is 60 years old with many issues.

When it comes to clients, Belew-LaDue said most of WIC clients are on East side of the county. They have 97 clients. 10% Hot Sulphur, 20% in Kremling and the rest of the 70% are Granby, Grand Lake, Fraser and Winter Park based on 2018 numbers. Granby is the focus and they expanded a WIC client to Granby in July.

Other agencies expressed similar concerns with aging buildings, concerns with the animal shelter because the sanitation department needs the building that it is currently housed in, and concerns with growth impacting the use of the buildings. Some agencies supported staying in Hot Sulphur while others thought a Granby co-located facility would be helpful. East Grand Superintendent Frank Reeves explained his concerns over Granby Elementary being overcrowded and was open to collaboration to save money. No decisions were made during the meeting and the commissioners thanked everyone for their time.

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