DIXON – The county is in the early stages of talking about what to do with the Lee County Jail once its replacement is completed later this year.
The aging facility at 122 W. Third St. has failed to meet jail standards for years, and original plans were to demolish the building and construct a parking lot for about $1 million, but that was when the new jail was going to be attached to the Lee County Courts Building rather than built in the industrial park.
The county’s properties, planning and zoning committee briefly discussed future plans Tuesday.
Cherry Valley-based Ringland-Johnson Construction, which is handling construction management and design for the new facility, is putting together rough designs for holding cells on the fourth floor of the courts building, which would be for inmates from outside Lee County making court appearances.
The current jail could then be used for other purposes, or they could “mothball it” to save costs, committee Chairman Dave Bowers said.
The goal would be to transport inmates to the fourth floor without interaction with the public.
There were concerns about parking and whether outside law enforcement would need to escort the inmates, but jail Superintendent Jack Skrogstad said it shouldn’t be a problem if they are secured in a locked room.
It’s the preliminary stage, but they’re weighing options and gathering costs, Bowers said.
Construction continues at the 3-acre site at 240 E. Progress Drive, with work on the new law enforcement center expected to wrap up Aug. 30, furnishings to be brought in in September and security training in October.
The County Board capped project costs at $18.5 million, but officials expect it to come in under budget.
The project footprint is about 41,000 square feet and will include a 94-bed jail, sheriff’s department, a sally port, space for storage, and a detention pond to alleviate flooding issues.