Retaining walls going up at Polk’s new jail

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, May 3, 2017

COLUMBUS – Polk County’s new jail is progressing as scheduled with a few walls now constructed.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met April 25 and heard from Paul Luzier, with Moseley Architects.

Luzier said about half of the facility has a poured slab and the construction is approximately 17-18 percent complete.

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The walls that have been constructed so far are mostly load bearing walls on the back section of the facility, Luzier said. Luzier added the site overall has been very well maintained by the contractor despite recent rains.

Luzier said last week the area received seven inches of rain over a four-day period on the site and he visited the site prior to last week’s meeting and the site looks like it did two weeks ago when the area had received one inch of rain.

The project is on schedule, according to Luzier, and is expected to be complete by December 2017/January 2018.

“It’s going to be a great facility when it gets done and a great addition to the county,” Luzier told commissioners.

During the last update in March, construction included footings and infrastructure being installed underground. The jail will be painted with neutral colors, including grays, browns and white.

Polk County was approved for a $13.5 million loan to construct the new law enforcement center, which will include a 60-bed jail facility. Commissioners approved a two-cent tax increase to help pay for the loan in the current fiscal year with plans for an additional two-cent tax increases over the next two fiscal years.

Polk County’s new law enforcement center construction is about 18 percent complete, with some walls being constructed as well as slabs poured. (photo submitted by Polk County Government)

The county purchased 19.19 acres of property adjacent to the Milliken plant just outside Columbus Town Limits for $1,950,000 and another 2.6 acres off Park Street for $125,000 for a total land purchase price of $2,075,000 to construct the new law enforcement center. Some of the property was purchased for future needs, such as a new courthouse and possibly administrative offices on the same property for the county.

Commissioners also approved a construction bid of $9,603,350 to Cooper Construction.

The new jail will more than double the size of the current jail, which has 25 beds and was constructed in the 1970s. The current jail does not house females or juveniles while the new jail will house males, females and juveniles.

The county frequently transports females and juveniles and overflow males to other counties to be housed, with jail officials saying the county spent $178,000 last year in out-of-county housing costs.

The current jail has also not met state guidelines for years, including for fire safety. The new law enforcement center will include all measures to meet state guidelines, including for fire safety.