Concept of future building easier for County Board to swallow than details
By Jacob Mathias
County leaders are still considering all the options for a new jail and county facility.
In an attempt to gain more clarity on options for a possible new future jail and county facility, the Portage County Space and Properties Committee voted Tuesday to seek more cost estimates on various remodeling and new construction options.
The committee is asking Milwaukee-based Venture Architects to provide cost estimates for new jail and courthouse construction, remodeling the current court house versus building new office space in a future government building as well as the cost of razing the current Portage County Law Enforcement Center and laying asphalt for additional parking.
“What would be a more cost effective option…If you build a larger facility and build it new, how much is that going to cost compared to remodeling an older building,” said County Board Supervisor Tom Mallison.
Currently the only new facility proposed by Venture Architects would absorb all county departments into one building and fetch a price tag of $85 million. But some in the county say combining new construction with existing facilities could be a more cost effective measure.
“My biggest concern is- and you’ve got to plan for this no matter where this thing winds up- you’ve got to have capacity for the future and you’ve got to have room for expansion,” said Portage County Board Chairman Phil Idsvoog. “If you don’t have that, you’re going to wake up 25 years from now and say ‘why in the world did this County Board do this twice?'”
Committee Chair Don Jankowski said a new facility could include courts and law enforcement-related departments, keeping other departments inside existing buildings. The other option, he said, would be to create a brand new building for all of county government.
“Getting back to where we were probably two years ago, our main goal with this project was to build a jail and courts and I think that is exactly what we should build,” said Lonnie Krogwold, Portage County District 24 Supervisor. “The architect can figure out how to place it on the property so there is room for future expansion.”
While the new facility itself has not met with county approval, the County Board in May approved the location of the possible building remain in the downtown area.
The Space and Properties Committee meets July 7 at 5:30 PM.