Revised Juvenile and Adult Jail Plans Presented to County Commission

Andrew Trzaska | September 11, 2013

Muskegon County’s board commissioners saw a new round of jail plans at Tuesday’s full meeting.

This represents the second major presentation of jail designs after the architect was selected in April. First concepts were presented in June, and bonds for the jail were authorized in July alongside some revisions to the parking around the courthouse and jail complex.

Larry Goldberg, the project architect for the two buildings, presented the concepts at Tuesday’s meeting.

New details presented on the juvenile center included the look of the building, its public spaces, and a concept that would allow staff to change the amount of access its charges would have to the building.

The juvenile center’s exterior will be brick with windows around 6 feet off the ground, and will resemble a one-floor office building. The interior will keep residential rooms close to bathrooms and classrooms.

“It remains a very compact and easily build structure,” said Goldberg.

Golberg also talked about “sequential sanctioning” possibilities for the center, where an ID-style system could be implemented to give and take away the ability for juveniles to access certain public spaces, based on behavior.

“You can give these young people, hopefully, some positive reinforcement,” said Goldberg.

Regarding the adult jail, Goldberg explained the major changes in its plans include a smaller basement and a new shared entrance between the Kobza Hall of Justice and the detention facility, approximately where the current entrance to the courthouse is now.  One security checkpoint would be used for both, with jail visitors to turning right and courthouse visitors turning left.

Board members showed signs of wariness about this feature at the meeting.  Commissioner Terry Sabo asked the architect that the county did not want to subject courthouse visitors to a prison-like environment.

The fourth floor of the jail remains unfinished in the designs, but cells can be added in the initial construction as a “bid alternate”, according to Goldberg. Since the cells are prefabricated and installed in blocks, they can also be added later, bringing the total occupancy of the adult jail up to just under 800 people.

The current designs include using prefabricated panels for the outside of the jail, mimicking the limestone panels currently on the ends of the courthouse.

Final estimates of the cost of the jail have not been developed. The county has authorized up to $34 for actual construction costs, and up to $6 million for other costs including financing.

Goldberg noted that the project has proceeded with revisions, but “very little scope creep” has taken place, meaning the County has not thrown in or removed too many features or requirements in the course of the design.

Tuesday’s presentation was simply informative, and did not include a vote. The architect’s design development will be completed within the next two weeks, including fire protection, plumbing, electrical and more. Lansing-based Granger Construction, who the county hired in April to manage construction of the project, will then do a cost analysis of the plans before the bid process starts.

Andrew Trzaska

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