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The Arapahoe County Commissioners have been working on this problem for several years. While the jail has been maintained the best it could be, the cost of maintenance has been eating away at the total dollars Arapahoe County has to invest in all its facilities. The reality is that over the last 10 years, the County has invested 20 percent of the money it has available to spend on all 29 facilities it maintains to just keep the jail and court facilities going. It has now reached the point where it no longer makes sense to continue pouring money into the old structure. Also there is no way the existing jail can handle the increased demands brought on by continued growth in the County. There comes a time in the life of any facility when you have to face the fact that it no longer is big enough, sound enough or safe enough to serve its purpose.
In 2018 the County Commissioners authorized the development of a Master Plan for the Arapahoe County Justice Center. The master plan completed in 2019 included evaluating the current condition of the jail and courthouse, exploring what options were available (such as could we add on to the existing jail) and a recommendation of the most cost effective solution available to the County. It was prepared by the independent firm of Reilly Johnson Architecture which specializes in the planning and design of justice facilities, especially jails and courts. The Master Plan for the Arapahoe County Justice Center includes detailed design and construction requirements for the four phases of the project, along with specific cost estimates.
First, we’re just running out of room. It was built to house 386 inmates and now houses over 1,100. Unlike a residential home, you just can’t “pop the top” and add new cells. Second, the wear and tear on your house is nothing like the treatment a jail undergoes 24/7. And third, the infrastructure like plumbing, sewage and electrical just can’t handle the stress of so many more occupants then its original design So, 30 years may not seem old for a house, but in “jail-years” it’s far surpassed its useful life.
The County Commissioners are well aware that citizens are concerned about congestion and pavement condition. As we work toward a solution for the old jail, we are simultaneously looking for ideas and solutions to deal with traffic. The County is in the process of updating its transportation plan and establishing priorities for projects. In many ways, transportation is more complicated than the jail or court house. Transportation funding comes for a number of different sources, including federal and state, and projects often involve many different jurisdictions. But we are moving ahead with transportation and expect an updated plan to be available in 2020.
The LRPC is a citizen-based committee created to provide input and recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners on the County’s priorities –specifically the Judicial Complex and transportation. One of the things the Commission is hoping to receive is a recommendation on how to fund major capital projects.
Ultimately, that depends on you. The Board of County Commissioners will take into consideration any recommendations from the Long Range Planning Committee regarding funding. The Commission also will be looking for input from citizens. Comments can be sent to email@example.com. If the Commission decides to place some sort of tax measure on the ballot, then voters of course will make the final decision.
We live and work in Arapahoe County. Many of us have children who are attending or who have attended schools in the County. Tragedies such as the recent event in our neighboring county and that have happened in our community are heart breaking and strike close to home. The Sheriff and the Board of County Commissioners agree that school safety is a critical need and we will be working together to do all we can to keep our schools safe. These are difficult discussions and hard decisions. They require coordination between all the school districts and cities and towns within the county. Your ideas are important to us as we move forward. We welcome your thoughts. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.