To that end, Stark County is planning to update its county jail. This week, the county commissioners met with Sheriff George Maier and County Facilities Director Tom Serra to consider upgrades to the original, nearly 60-year-old section of the Stark County Jail.
“I think it’s time to start seriously taking a look at what we’re going to do down the road,”
Maier informed the commissioners that there have been plumbing and electrical problems in the original jail. Some of the supporting structures haven’t been upgraded since the building was first occupied. Brant Luther, the county administrator, recently stated that the county is considering employing the construction manager’s at-risk delivery model for upgrades to the jail.
A guaranteed maximum price would be negotiated between the county and the construction manager, with any additional costs falling on the construction manager. Apparently, the county last utilized this model in 2004 when they expanded the jail, according to Luther. Improvements would not include the planned expansion.
There is currently no way to estimate how much money would be needed for the refurbishments. Serra explained that once the county hired an architect and construction manager at-risk, the two businesses would evaluate the facility and figure out how much work would need to be done.
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Serra stated that the guaranteed maximum price would include a contingency reserve provided by the construction manager at-risk to account for change orders.
What would Be the Next Steps?
To kick off the planning process, the county would retain Bricker & Eckler, a law firm in Columbus, to assist in the creation of an RFP and RFQ. Luther noted the firm’s emphasis on construction law and said that it has collaborated on projects with attorneys from neighboring counties.
Bricker & Eckler can be hired for a total of $78,000 to secure an architect of record, choose a construction manager, and draught contract agreements. It is still unknown if these funds will be allocated from the county’s criminal justice budget, capital improvement plan, or general fund.
Luther assured residents that county officials would be forthcoming with information at every stage of the process and would make sure funding was in place before proceeding with the project. He mentioned that in recent years, funds have been made available by Governor Mike DeWine for county jails to undertake infrastructural repairs. Twice before, Stark has applied for and received state funding.
“The state favors shovel-ready, efficient planning, shelf-ready plans,”
“And I think that in order for Stark County to be seriously considered for these funds, we have to be showing that we’re prepared, have a plan, have it laid out and are prepared to receive those funds.”
Luther expressed confidence that the county could find innovative means of funding the project. The American Rescue Plan provided roughly $72 million to Stark. Although this budget line item cannot be used to pay for correctional facilities, its flexibility means that it may be reallocated to fund other government programs.