Spiegel Property

Jail builder John Hansen told the Jackson County Board of Supervisors Oct. 29 why he thought the old hospital site and other properties wouldn’t work well for a new jail. He wants the county to build a 50-bed jail on the corner of Maple and Jacobsen, on a property that the county plans to buy from A.J. Spiegel for $75,000.

Next, Hansen will firm up estimates on a potential jail. County supervisors hope to hold a third bond referendum in March, though they haven’t yet set that vote.

The $75,000 to buy the property won’t be included in a potential bond amount, supervisors said Oct. 29.

Twice before, a bond referendum for a new jail has failed to earn the 60 percent voter approval needed to pass. Both those referendums were based on a property near Wal-Mart on the south side of Maquoketa.

“I think development costs would be very minimal because utility costs would be minimal,” Hansen said of the Spiegel site. The approximately-2.8 acres also is fairly flat, minimizing dirt work.

“I’ve heard nothing but good comments from people about this site,” said Supervisor Jack Willey.

“Including from people who voted no,” added Supervisor Larry McDevitt.

“I was really impressed by the site,” Hansen said. “There are two ways in and out of the site… There’s not a lot of residential around that particular area. … We were working on a green site before, but it was a lot more acres and a lot more cost.”

Hansen passed out maps and analyses for the other sites as well.

At the current hospital location, a jail wouldn’t fit without buying residential properties or tearing down a shed and digging up a parking lot, he said. It would also require a retaining wall, affect the access to the current hospital, and possibly involve utility relocation.

Hansen said he wouldn’t recommend that spot.

“The new facility does not fit well on this site,” he wrote. “Deputy response through a residential area can become a safety concern, and traffic would increase substantially.”

At the city’s Maple Street location, the biggest added cost would be fill to cover elevation changes, which could cost as much as $700,000. It would be doable if needed, he wrote.

At the old Hide Co. property, jail construction would require demo of the current building, or extensive excavation and retaining walls, Hansen wrote. With a current asking price of $599,000, this site “would not be financially feasible,” he continued.

Willey had asked about potential cost savings of moving some of the law center’s administrative space into a basement, but Hansen argued that wouldn’t be a money saver. Between excavation, elevators, construction, heating and cooling, he estimated the cost of basement construction at about $400,000, versus a cost of about $220,000 to put the same elements on the first floor.