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DeKalb County OKs designs for expanded jail

SYCAMORE – The DeKalb County Board approved designs for an expanded jail and shut down a tourist park Wednesday.

Dennis Kimme, president of criminal justice planning/designing firm Kimme and Associates, gave board members an update on the jail expansion project, which could cost anywhere between $26.9 million and $31.7 million depending on how much immediate expansion the county wants.

The proposed design would increase occupancy by 163 on the low end and 221 on the high end. The existing public safety building would be expanded east and close the north half of the 100 block of North Locust Street.

The new first floor would include a booking center, public lobby, storage, administration offices, health care center for inmates, briefing area, laundry and food services.

The second floor would include cells, including a section for inmates with special needs and high security sections. The third floor would be cells stacked on top of the second-floor cells. Officers in central posts would have a full view of the area, which is a security upgrade from the existing “officer rounds” process the county uses now, Kimme said.

The floor plans were laid out with efficiencies in mind, Kimme said, including making the food services and laundry areas adjacent so there will be a need for only one manager.

All members voted in favor of the designs except for John Gudmunson, R-Somonauk, and Ken Andersen, R-Sycamore, who were opposed because of the high projected costs and seeing no need to rush with action on the project not expected until next summer.

The need for the expansion comes as the county is spending more than $1 million a year to house inmates at other counties’ jails.

“By the time we build this jail, we will likely have a population that will fill this jail,” said Riley Oncken, R-Sycamore.

With the funding source for the expansion still being challenged in court, Kimme said there would be a hiatus until June, when the finalization and bid process could start. Groundbreaking would take place in April 2014 and construction would last about 19 months.

The county is waiting for the appellate court to decide whether the landfill expansion, which would generate tipping fee revenue for the jail expansion, will be allowed. The decision is expected in the next two to six months.

DeKalb County Administrator Ray Bockman said every day the project is delayed the costs will go up. The low cost of construction is slowly rising again and bond rates that could be lower than 3 percent now will be higher by the time the county can move on the project.

“Every day this project gets put off, it costs the taxpayers money,” Bockman said.

While the jail expansion design was given a green light, the board quickly shut down Stonehouse Park on Wednesday with no discussion.

Co-owners Steve Cecchin and Gregg Larson failed to show a loan commitment within the 90-day window the county allowed. The owners have been scrutinized by neighbors and County Board members in the past year for code violations and illegal activities on the premises.

Cecchin has said the park was close to obtaining a loan commitment and was ready to change its services from music events to yoga retreats, which would be less intrusive than the musical festivals.

With the vote, the park must shut down immediately, but Cecchin said he would seek another special use permit in February.

John Hulseberg, D-Sycamore, was the only member who voted for the Earlville park to keep its permit.

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