NEW ALBANY — The needed signatures are in hand and the architectural schedule has been released. In a few months, the much-anticipated renovation to the Floyd County Jail will be underway.
In order to bond the project, which will likely cost between $12 million and $15 million, 50 signatures from Floyd County property owners had to be secured. Sheriff Frank Loop submitted 77 and all were certified by Auditor Scott Clark.
"We are plugging along, working daily on the bonding issue," Loop said.
Architect Chet Michell also presented a schedule to the Floyd County Commissioners Tuesday with some important dates moving forward. Those include: Feb. 19, the cost and scope of the project will be released; and March 13, construction plans and final drawings released. The deadline for bids is April 16.
"We are on schedule," Michell said.
The main portion of the renovation plan is to convert the outside recreation area into a new pod and add around 120 additional beds, which will help the jail solve its space issues. The kitchen also will see a major overhaul.
Loop said it's important to get construction started before June 1 when the state may start to require public hearings and feasibility studies on the possibility of regional jails.
"We are putting pressure on the architects and engineers so we can get the plans moving forward," Loop said. "Dates for bonding are very important."
And unlike school projects, construction or expansions of jails are protected from a remonstrance because they are considered necessary, and only 50 signatures from property owners are required to be able to finance the projects.
Another key is the ability to move prisoners around during construction. Loop said keeping them in-house will save the county from having to pay other counties to house them. He said the plan is to finish one area before beginning the other portion of the project.
"We hope to keep as many here as possible," Loop said.
The sheriff added he has been working with Floyd County judges and the prosecutor to help decrease the population as construction nears.
"They are examining who is in jail and our population has been down a little," Loop said.
Some improvements were completed last year. A new roof was put on the facility, the exterior was cleaned and windows were recaulked. And the jail building received a new sally port door.
Loop said he is more than ready to get the jail updates underway.
"I was hoping we would get this done in '16; I didn't think it would take three years. We just keep plugging away," he said.
The Floyd County jail was built in 1992 to house 134 inmates. A few years later, beds were double-bunked to fit 234 inmates. The jail consistently has close to 300 inmates on a daily basis.