AUBURN — Architects met with DeKalb County Commissioners and members of the commissioners’ jail committee Monday to begin discussing sites and design elements of a new DeKalb County Jail.
The Elevatus architecture firm of Fort Wayne has been selected to design a new jail, which will replace the existing jail in downtown Auburn. The current jail was built in the mid-1980s and has faced problems with overcrowding and structural issues due to settling.
“This has to be so somebody is not put in this position again,” said Sheriff David Cserep II of the importance of the decisions reached in designing and building a new jail.
“We have a true need,” Commissioner Todd Sanderson said. “We have to educate people.”
“Now it’s a ‘have to’,” Commissioners President William Hartman agreed.
Elevatus partner Tony Vie advised that a first step in the project will be to update a jail study conducted in 2016.
The group went on to review an aerial photo of county-owned land north of S.R. 8 at the west edge of Auburn. The DeKalb County Community Corrections Center sits on the south part of the property at the end of new Potter Drive.
The consensus of the group was that an area directly east of the Corrections Center would be a good site for a new jail. Other future facilities, such as a cold storage building and an outdoor shooting range, also could be located on the land, with a road extending north to C.R. 40, the group agreed.
Hartman shared a design he had drafted that shows two adjoining blocks — a rectangular block that would be used for administration and a square block that would house cells.
Cserep said he also would like to see a room dedicated for court video hearings, decorated to courtroom standards, to “bring the fidelity of the courtroom to that room.”
Hartman said the commissioners estimate construction costs of a new jail will be about $25 million. Vie described that figure as “very reasonable.”
Vie said he also will track soft costs that would not be included in the construction costs — “anything not bricks and mortar,” he added. Cserep said there are items in the current jail that can be repurposed.
The jail committee will continue to meet with Elevatus, with the next meeting scheduled for Monday at 1:30 p.m.