URBANA — Champaign County Board members got their first official estimate Tuesday for a proposal to consolidate the county’s jails and sheriff’s office at the satellite jail in east Urbana.
Chuck Reifsteck, principal at the architectural firm Reifsteck Reid, told the board’s facilities committee Tuesday that if the consolidated facility were built in 2022 (the earliest date under consideration), it would cost $47,178,772.
“It is a lot of money, but we need to get started on this,” said committee Chairman Stan Harper.
“We are at times close to capacity with the facilities now,” said county board member Steve Summers. “But we need to look at what the finances are and what we are able to do. We will need to make some hard decisions.”
Sheriff Dustin Heuerman expressed concern over the deteriorating downtown jail.
“I am really worried a lawsuit would cost us more than the cost of moving to the satellite facility,” Heuerman said. “I realize money doesn’t grow on trees, but we need to get out of that building as soon as possible.”
In 2014, the county board hired Reifsteck’s firm to study public safety facilities, including combining the deteriorating downtown jail and sheriff’s office, which opened in 1980, with the newer satellite jail in east Urbana.
County officials recently asked Reifsteck to update the study.
The concept, as outlined by Reifsteck, calls for building a sheriff’s office northwest of the satellite jail, adding new housing east of the satellite jail and renovating the existing building.
The plan calls for a 34-bed housing pod for inmates with special needs, a 54-bed housing pod for both the male and female general population, and another 54-bed housing pod solely for male inmates, replacing the downtown capacity.
The current setup includes 182 beds at the satellite jail and 113 downtown, for a total of 295.
The new concept reduces the total number of beds by 12 to 283, but all of them would meet required jail standards, Reifsteck said.
Other elements include a health care area, an intake/booking property, a secure refuge area to place inmates in case of a fire, an indoor exercise space, visiting space to meet with attorneys, jail administration space, storage and inmate commissary, a laundry, a public lobby, a kitchen with a new dry-food storage area, and expansion of the garage space.
Gathering the information from the architect is the first step for the county’s pursuit of possible jail consolidation.
Future steps would include determining how to pay for the project, raising money to pay for the work and deciding whether to proceed with the venture.