New jail plans #8216;trim fat#039; from final cost

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 16, 2006

Architects presented the Butler County Commission with a new design for the county jail, plans that could drop the overall price of the project from $5.5 million to $4.1 million, according to Bryan Moore, on-site construction manager.

New plans drop the size of the jail from 16,019 square foot to 12,964 square foot, according to Moore, of Martin and Cobey Construction Company, Inc.

The jail is smaller and also loses some of the aesthetic qualities from the original design, said Moore, but it remains a &#8220state-of-the-art secure facility.”

&#8220It's more utilitarian that it was,” said Moore. &#8220But we were able to maintain our bed count.”

The original estimated cost was based on a price of $348 per square foot for construction of the jail. Moore estimates the new cost to be $300 per square foot - still larger than what county officials initially thought, but more in line with the $4 million budgeted by the commission for building the jail.

Still, Moore said the $300 cost per square foot is a conservative estimate. He said he still felt that number wasn't a correct assessment of what final costs would be.

One of the main reasons the initial bids came in so high, said Moore, is that there was little interest in the project from contractors.

&#8220I'm not a contractor, but I can estimate the cost savings that go along with the new design,” said Moore.

Butler County Commissioner Glenn King was pleased with the new design and referred to it as &#8220trimming the fat.”

&#8220I hope the re-bidding of this project brings back some good bids,” said King.

Commissioner Frank Hickman agreed and liked that the new jail's recreation area had been moved away from existing homes near the site.

&#8220I like the new jail and think the new plans will make it a good bit affordable,” Hickman. &#8220I'm glad we moved the recreation area away from the houses and hopefully it will enhance the quality of life for those residents.”

Commission Chairman Jesse McWilliams said the main thing is keep progress moving towards starting construction.

&#8220This is going to be an up and down process,” said McWilliams.