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County commissioners narrow search for property to build new jail
Escambia County - Escambia County Commissioners have been narrowing down their search to find property to build a new jail. Thursday, county staff proposed two different pieces of property that could potentially become the new site of the correctional campus. Since, the jail exploded on April 29th inmates have been sent to Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton County jails.
Costing Escambia County millions of dollars. The county has to pay the other jails a daily fee for each inmate. So, far the cost is in the ball park of $2.5 million. And if they keep the jails at capacity for a year it could cost nearly $4.7 million. A price commissioner's don't want to pay.
"I don't want to sit around here for months and months and months and talk about this and keep saying that we are going to spend an extra three almost $5 million on temporary housing and let a lot of time go by. Because if I can save a year I've saved almost $5 million," said Wilson Robertson.
So, county staff has been on the hunt for property to build a new facility. They showed commissioners two possible locations. The first, is on Beulah Road near Interstate 10. It's more than 50 acres and zoned for a corrections complex. The other site is located in Escambia County's Central Commerce Park on Highway 29, near Molino. Commissioners agree this location might be a better choice.
What makes this piece of property desirable is that it's already county owned, it's zoned for a correctional facility, it's at least 50 acres, and it's not in a flood zone.
"It has infrastructure already in place, you've got the roads and drainage and we're not selling them. The lots aren't selling," said Wilson Robertson.
But, District 5 Commissioner Steven Barry isn't sold on the property.
"I know the aerial doesn't look like a tremendous amount of activity in the Central Commerce Park, but I would note that there is only three or four county owned parcels there the rest are privately owned and are paying taxes," said Steve Barry.
At Commissioner Barry's request the commission decided to send out a request for information on other possible locations.
But hope to make this a speedy process.