County down to two sites for new jail

Published 8:36 pm Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Pike County Commission is officially down to two sites for a new county jail, and they’re the same two that have been publicly discussed all year.

Consultant Ken Upchurch of TCU Consulting Services will publicly reveal the firm’s analysis of the Dunbar Drive and Road Department properties at the July 22 commission meeting.

Until now, those discussions had remained behind closed doors. Two other properties were being considered by the commission, and commissioners cited the need for negotiating leverage as the reason the discussion should be kept to executive session.

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The county already owns the property at the Road Department, and would have to purchase the Dunbar Drive property once the Troy Housing Authority fully disposes of it. The authority is still working to relocate tenants to move forward with the disposal.

But property price isn’t the only factor being considered by the commission – TCU’s evaluations judged both sites on a long list of criteria in five categories including  general site characteristics, site proximity, locational impact, initial cost criteria and long-range cost criteria.

Commissioner Russell Johnson, District 6, said the main thing is getting the information about the evaluations out ahead of the vote to give some background on the commission’s decision.

“We agreed to not just bring it up and vote on it,” Johnson said. “Ken Upchurch is going to talk about the evaluations in public before the vote. We’re going to announce that and let it be known about when we are going to decide on the jail; we will not be bringing it out of the blue.”

Upchurch is expected to give the presentation during the commission’s work session at 5:15 p.m. on Monday, July 22. The commission meets upstairs at the Pike County Health Department building on Franklin Drive.

Commissioners have said they’ll likely vote at the first meeting in August, giving the public time to digest the information from the presentation.