The Barry County Board of Commissioners Tuesday voted unanimously to hire Tower Pinkster to facilitate the building of a new Barry County Jail. With the decision, Administrator Michael Brown will send a Letter of Engagement to Tower Pinkster.
The five companies interviewed were Tower Pinkster, Hooker/Delong/Landmark Design Group, BKV Group, and Lifespan Design Studies with BKV Design, BVCE & Associates and DLZ/Granger.
Discussion began at last week’s meeting and continued Tuesday. “We cannot continue to deliberate on this the waywe have,” Commission Chair Ben Geiger said.
He favored taking the top two scoring companies commissioners ranked during interviews and make a decision on one or the other; Tower Pinkster or Granger.
That started the discussion for the next two hours, when commissioners discussed several more options, and discarded each for a variety of reasons.
All had good points, but also drawbacks; BKV had a good presentation, but is an out of state company, some commissioners thought Barry County residents would prefer someone in the state.
Tower Pinkster are excellent architects and engineers, but couldn’t do the actual construction.
A proposal to take the top three companies and re-interview them was talked of, but was also dropped. One company had no experience with building jails, some would be involved in the money raising, and other firms, not as much.
Uppermost in the discussion was how to pay for the jail, with millage the likely route, but with intense public education on what a new jail would look like and what they would be getting for their taxpayer dollars.
“If we don’t get millage, that would cause a real problem; this would be an expensive farce, an expensive farce.”
Geiger said several times he did not want to bring a millage request to voters more than once. “I want to do it once and do it right… I have too much respect for voters.”
Resident Cathy Young Gramze cautioned the commission that they will have to show the community exactly what they would get for their money. “Barry County people won’t buy a pig in a poke,” she said.
Resident Larry Bass reminded the board that at least two school districts would be asking for millage in the near future. “You have competition…stick with needs, not wants.”.”
Resident Bob Vanderboegh recommended commissioners use a plan already paid for, the Master Facilities Plan of 2015. It calls for moving the Friend of the Court office to the Courts & Law Building. They could then move the Barry Eaton District Health Department office into the FOC space and renovate the health department building for the COA.
Considering the COA and the jail the same time was also brought up. If they did the moving of offices to different spaces to make the health department building available, maybe they wouldn’t need a millage for the COA, Geiger said.