Early Floor Plan Concepts For New Muskegon County Jail Unveiled

Andrew Trzaska | June 11, 2013

Early designs of the new Muskegon County jail were unveiled by the architect at Tuesday’s County Commission meeting.

After a year of citizen and board committee deliberations as well as citizen protests, the jail plan is moving forward. The current design shows the new jail residing on the county courthouse’s main parking lot, connected to the current jail and the courthouse. The complex will include a new juvenile detention center across Pine Street. Previous evolutions included a tunnel or a bridge to the county lot across Pine Street.

The basic jail plan will include a partial basement, partial first floor, a full second floor and full third floor.  The partial floor under the full floors will allow for covered parking close to the jail and courthouse entrance, and that floor will be used for receiving, a kitchen, work release, and the main medical wing. The basement will be used for storage and likely laundry.

Larry Goldberg, president of the Missouri-based Goldberg, Sullivan & McCreery architectural firm, presented floorplan concepts for all three floors plus the basement of the proposed building, as well as an option for a fourth floor.

All in all, the jail’s size will be approximately 103,000 square feet, down from the 140,000 square feet budgeted in the County’s master jail plan.

The second and third floor will include medical outposts but will primarily be used for cells. One option proposed would be to add more cells in a modular fashion, increasing the number of cells by adding blocks that could be craned in and attached to well plates in the floor.  The current concept allows for a maximum of 217 beds on each of the second and third floor, with a total of 474 beds.

One additional option to the design could add a fourth floor, increasing the number of beds to 746. If added, the jail would rise slightly above the height of the county courthouse, but if the floor is left off, it will be shorter than the

Designs also note a special two-sided elevator scheme, because the current jail, the courthouse and now the new jail will all have different floor heights.  If a fourth floor is added, then a third elevator shaft could be added in the future to the basic two-elevator scheme in the current plan.

Even with the covered parking in the current courthouse lot will be reduced by approximately 50 spaces, which appeared to make commissioner Bob Scolnik wary. He also asked clarifying questions about the narrow “courtyard” between the jail and courthouse entrances, roughly where the courthouse’s drive-up and handicap parking spaces are now.

Rough plans for the juvenile transition center were also touched on at Tuesday’s meeting. According to Goldberg, the rooms will be single and double occupancy, though the single rooms will be able to eventually hold two people should the County choose to increase the jail’s population.

He also described the design as more focused on nurturing and less on detention.

“Where this is going… is more of a residential character, instead of turrets and fencing and all of that,” said Goldberg.

The current plan is 25,709 square feet, with 32 beds in two wings.  The building would have the capacity of adding 2 more wings doubling the population to 64.

Goldberg cites 25 years of jail design experience at the Goldberg Group.  He also stated that they worked with CGL, a company widely renowned for jail assessment and design.  CGL worked with the sheriff’s department and other stakeholders to define the jail’s current population, including gender, type of offense, special needs cases, and more.  Through this assessment, the plan evolved to increase the number of minimum-security cells and move the kitchen up to the first floor.

Cost estimates for the main jail plan as well as the two extra options were not available at Tuesday’s meeting, though Goldberg did note that projections for the juvenile center were going to be at or under budget.  he jail and transition center is expected to cost between $35 million and $41 million, depending on final schematics of each building.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst