GREENFIELD — Hancock County officials should see a proposed design and learn the estimated cost of a new jail by the end of year — assuming it’s built on county-owned farmland.
The Hancock County Commissioners on Tuesday gave the go-ahead to pay $400,000 to Indianapolis-based RQAW, the engineering firm paid by the county to study the jail, for a schematic design of a structure on land commonly called the county farm along U.S. 40 between County Roads 400E and 500E.
The board voted 2-1, with Commissioner Marc Huber opposing the plan. Huber has long supported the idea of building a jail in downtown Greenfield and updating other criminal justice buildings, such as the county prosecutor’s office. But he said the Hancock County Council and Greenfield City Council have “held hostage” the commissioners on a jail location. Members of both councils have gone on record as opposing a downtown facility.
Roger Stephens, director of marketing and business development for RQAW, said the firm has already begun work on a schematic design and should wrap up the plan by the end of 2018. RQAW recently finished a geotechnical study on the land, he said, and has started discussing next steps with county departments.
The jail would have two pods, which could hold about 440 inmates, and construction would last about two years. Part of one of the structures could be operational within a year to alleviate overcrowding. The building would house about 160 inmates and have a kitchen, laundry, nurse’s office and intake space.
County council members plan to increase the local income tax to pay for the facility, although the cost of the jail is still unknown. The design will include two jail pods but not a sheriff’s department office.