GALLIPOLIS — Gallia Commissioners, Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin and Gallia Sheriff’s Office Chief of Deputies Troy Johnson met with architect firms Thursday in the Gallia Courthouse to discuss architect presentations focused around the potential creation of a new Gallia correctional facility.
After considering statements of qualification, presentations and interviews, the commissioners rated their choice of architect firms with one being the most preferable. Commissioners listed DLZ Architecture first with Shremshock Architects and Engineers second, K2M Design third and TSHD Architects fourth.
The Engineering News-Record has ranked DLZ Architecture a number one correction design firm in the Midwest. The firm has reportedly planned and designed over 23,000 correctional-rated beds.
“We feel like most people agree that the quicker we can do this, the better,” said Commissioner David Smith about the groundbreaking of a new correctional facility for the county. “Two years might be achievable or 18 months if we really push it but I think trying to get ahead of that can be a real challenge. Maybe I’m wrong.”
Commissioner Harold Montgomery said he would like to see groundbreaking in spring of 2020. Both commissioners said groundbreaking dates are yet to be determined though.
According to commissioner legal counsel Jack Rosati with Bricker and Eckler, by statute commissioners must rank which firm they believe to be the most qualified to tackle the job of designing a new correctional facility before negotiating final financial needs for the upcoming correctional facility project. If an agreement can’t be reached, the commissioners move down the list of firms.
“It’s hard to know about a budget but we’re standing by what we think will be around $100,000 a bed,” said Smith of the project cost. “That’s around $10 million (if the county builds a 100-bed facility). If we do 120, that’s $12 million. I think that’s (a reasonable estimate) and I don’t think that’s out there. I think it’s a goal and achievable.”
Commissioners are still considering financing options. County officials have previously met with the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development institution to discuss funding a correctional facility’s construction. Commissioners met Baird Municipal Advisory and Investment Banking Firm Thursday morning to discuss the potential of financing through bond sales.
The county recently bought property near the courthouse compromised of the William Conley Law Office location and a parking lot once owned by the City of Gallipolis across the street from the Gallipolis Justice Center. Commissioners have said they would ideally set a new correctional facility as close to the current courthouse as possible and it would likely be a multi-storied building.
Commissioners started talk of building a new corrections facility in mid-March after ongoing discussions and concerns with Gallia’s current correctional facility overcrowding, county expenses growing due to combating the opioid epidemic and an aging jail.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.