LACONIA — The Belknap County Jail Planning Committee heard from SMP Architecture Project Manager Anthony Mento Thursday morning that the community corrections project is ''moving towards our goal'' of providing a design which will meet the $7 million limit set by County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) for the project.
SMP presented conceptual plan updates for the project to the committee, which includes DeVoy, County Administrator Deb Shackett, County Corrections Interim Superintendent Keith Gray and County Facilities Manager Dustin Muzzey.
Mento noted that SMP had reduced the preliminary square footage estimate from 27,000 to 17,000-square-feet, numbers which do not yet reflect wall and corridor space.
The committee heard from Mark Vincello of WV Engineering on the mechanical and electrical changes which will need to be incorporated into the plan for the 64-bed facility as well as renovations to a portion of the existing facility, which will, continue to house 30 to 40 inmates being held in pre-trial detention.
He recommended adding a third 400,000 btu boiler to heat the new facility and said that electrical capability will have to be doubled. A conceptual plan for the proposed facility shows the existing jail and the new 64-bed correction facility sharing a "sally port" (secure drive-in) on the north side.
Public access to the corrections facility would be through a south-facing covered entry which would be reached from a parking lot located off from the current driveway to the Belknap County complex. The proposed site plan also contains a separate entry road into the county complex for service vehicles only, near Lexington Drive, which would separate public traffic from service vehicles for a better traffic flow.
Vincello said that improved air flow into the existing facility will help eliminate some of the mold and mildew problems it currently has and that all of the ducts providing outside air to the old facility will be cleaned.
As part of the project some of the rooms in the old jail which are being vacated will be repurposed while some areas, where rehabilitation costs would be prohibitive, will no longer be used.
The conceptual plan includes bringing daylight into the new facility by having raised clerestory roofs above corridors throughout, as well as having a raised pitched roof with skylights over the entryway area. The new facility will be a one-story wood-frame structure.
DeVoy said that preliminary cost estimates which will be presented to fellow commissioners later this month will be based on $300-per-square foot figure.
Ross Cunningham of Alternative Solutions Associates, Inc., a consulting firm hired by the county to develop a plan for a community corrections facility and programs, said he was impressed by the SMP conceptual design and the work that had gone into putting all of the elements for the facility into a workable design.
DeVoy said that one of the key questions his fellow commissioners will be asking is about staffing the new facility and asked Cunningham to be prepared to answer those questions when the committee meets with the commissioners.
The design project has an August 21 completion target date.
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