Brown County commissioners delayed action Tuesday on the purchase of a building envisioned as the site for a new regional jail.
Commissioners discussed the $4.5 million purchase from the Aberdeen Development Corp. during their regular meeting. They plan to buy the former Hub City Inc. property at 2914 and 2916 Industrial Ave.
The goal Tuesday was to approve the purchase agreement and designate the county fund that will be used for the transaction, but those things didn’t happen. Instead a special meeting has been set for 8 a.m. Friday.
At issue was the absence of language in the purchase agreement about easements and drainage.
Deputy State’s Attorney Ross Aldentaler said title work on the property is still in progress.
“At the end of the day, it will be a two-part closing with any easement language in the second part of the closing,” Aldentaler said.
But, Commissioner Doug Fjeldheim said he’d like to see language added to the purchase agreement that acknowledges the details that are not yet finalized, like any easements that might be needed.
Not all commissioners agree on purchase
That’s when Commissioner Dennis Feickert discouraged the purchase.
“We have no idea where $20 (million) to $30 million (for the regional jail) is going to come from,” he said. “This is ridiculous to buy a dead horse and try and remodel it with money we ain’t got. It would be the best thing we can do if this doesn’t go through.”
In response to Feickert’s concerns, Commissioner Chairman Duane Sutton said money set aside by the Legislature this year could be a potential source of funding.
More:Brown County Commission approves purchase of building to be used as a new jail
Allocation of that money is contingent on recommendations from summer studies that will be conducted by the state lawmakers. In a report to commissioners Tuesday, state Rep. Carl Perry, R-Aberdeen, said corrections was one of three topics selected for summer studies. Other topics include sales taxes and juvenile justice.
Ultimately, commissioners deferred action until Friday.
Commissioners asked about securing construction manager
While the purchase of the building has yet to be finalized, commissioners are already being asked about considering the hiring of a construction management agency. Corey Johnson with GA Johnson Construction said he’s acted as a construction management agent on other projects with HMN, the company that completed the initial needs assessment of Brown County’s jail options.
Although commissioners heard Johnson’s proposal, no action was taken. Auditor Cathy McNickle said she needs to determine if requests for proposals need to be sought for the service. She said the construction manager and architect need to be hired separately.
While commissioners have received estimated costs for renovation work of the building they might buy, Fjeldheim wondered when they could expect more concrete numbers.
More:Brown County hears of need for drug treatment, employment concerns at regional jail meeting
Feickert also chimed in about the need for solid renovation cost numbers.
Johnson said a typical jail project takes three to five years years to complete and that the construction management agent is someone who has to be hired early in the process.
While he favors the idea of building new instead of renovating existing space, Johnson said the industrial park building the county is considering is a “phenomenal purchase” and a space that has some of that needed infrastructure in place.
More:Brown County Jail needs study projects demand for 143-bed regional facility
Brown County Chief Deputy Dave Lunzman said area counties are excited about the idea of having a place to house their inmates.
“You’ll have to spend money to get some money out of it,” Lunzman said. “But everybody in the area is excited that we’re doing something different, (and) that’s a regional jail for everyone.”
Still, he said, the development of the jail has to be well-planned with the focus on increasing space for Brown County inmates.
Bridge bid awarded
Commissioners awarded the bid for the replacement of the bridge northeast of Frederick. Four bids were opened ranging from $1.72 million to $3.1 million. The project was awarded to the low bidder, Robert Schroeder Construction from Glenwood, Minn.
Highway Superintendent Dirk Rogers said the county received a Bridge Improvement Grant for the work, which means 80% of the cost will be covered by state funds.