The first major step toward upgrading the Franklin County Jail and 911 Communication Center was taken Wednesday when Navigate Building Solutions was selected to manage the entire process from start to finish.
The St. Louis-based firm was selected from a field of four highly qualified companies after formal interviews were done with each in recent weeks.
The selection committee was comprised of County Commissioners John Griesheimer, Tim Brinker and Dave Hinson, County Counselor Mark Vincent, County EMA Director Abe Cook, EMA field operations officer Aaron Aitch, Sheriff Steve Pelton, and jail Superintendent Capt. Dave Boehm.
All three commissioners agreed the Navigate team had the best presentation and its selection was nearly unanimous.
Two of the Navigate principal members previously worked for the Paric Corporation, which oversaw the construction of the county judicial and government centers and historic courthouse renovation a decade ago.
“They seem to have the best grasp of our need,” Brinker said. “They have a great case history and knowledge of our county infrastructure.”
Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer, who was the lone dissenting vote in selecting Navigate, said its past history with the county will be beneficial moving forward.
“They are familiar with the county,” he said. “They also have team members with experience in several different aspects of designs.”
Second District Commissioner Dave Hinson said the county was lucky to have so many qualified applicants and is looking forward to meeting with Navigate next week to get started.
“My first question to them is how they are going to go about this project?” Hinson said. “We really have no idea what to expect and we are going into this with no preconceived notions. We will rely on the professionals we’ve hired to tell us how to move forward.”
Currently, $50,000 is budgeted for the construction management services and the commissioners don’t anticipate any issues in negotiating fees and payments to the firm.
Those details are also expected to be hashed out at the meeting next week.
Although costs can’t be calculated until a study can be done to determine whether upgrades to the current facility will be made or a new structure is built, similar projects involving new facilities had costs upwards of $30 million.
To generate the needed funds for any upgrades will require appealing to the voters with a sales tax referendum sometime next year.
Brinker said he is excited and anxious to be at this point and hopes to see the project move quickly.
“I’m anxious to assess our needs for the full scope of the project,” he said. “I’d like to see it get started sooner, rather than later. Construction could possibly be underway in 2018 and completed by 2019.”
Hinson said his concerns for the project moving quickly are twofold.
“My primary concern is the safety of the personnel at the jail,” Hinson said. “Right now, that facility is not safe and the 911 center is just out of space.”
Griesheimer, said the key to this project is bringing everybody together and keeping the public informed.
“This has to be done now, it can’t be put off any longer,” he said. “We have to make sure we take the right steps and keep everybody on the same team and pushing the same direction.”