CHESTERTOWN — As early as 2023, Kent County could have a renovated detention center and a new public safety building to house the sheriff’s office, the Office of Emergency Services and the county’s 911 call center.
Joseph Crabtree, principal project manager with Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates Architects, presented a feasibility study to the Kent County commissioners during their meeting Tuesday night, Aug. 6.
The plans he presented detailed an addition of 17,146 square feet to the Kent County Detention Center, with renovations on 19,190 square feet of the existing building.
The Kent County Sheriff’s Office would be moved from its current location in the same building as the detention center. In the plans Crabtree presented, the office would occupy the first floor of a 30,305-square-foot public safety building constructed to the left of the detention center. OES and the 911 call center would be housed on the second floor of the public safety building.
Combined, the renovations and new construction carry a price tag of $19,954,858 to $23,670,943.
Crabtree estimates the detention center’s total project cost to be as much as $14 million, with the public safety building’s total cost as much as $16.5 million.
In an interview immediately after the meeting, County Administrator Shelley Heller said the county would use bonds to pay for the project.
Crabtree said in his presentation that state reimbursement on the detention center project could be in the range of $5 million to $7 million.
“I mean there’s no question the 911 and the detention center and the sheriff’s department need more room,” Commission President Tom Mason said. “So, like (Commissioner Ron Fithian) says, this is the first time we’ve seen this, so we need to digest it and go from there.”
Crabtree said the next step, if the county chooses to do so, is for the plans to be received and reviewed by the state.
Other than additional space, some of the big changes included in Crabtree’s plans for the detention center are the addition of a central booking area, an indoor gym, a redesigned visitors area and updated floor plans to better separate male and female inmates.
Sheriff John F. Price told the commissioners that having central booking will help improve the safety of his deputies and streamline the process of booking an inmate.
“Currently, the sheriff’s office is in a situation where space is a big issue,” Price said. “When we bring in an inmate from the street — whether it be 2 o’clock in the morning, 3 o’clock in the morning — it’s just the actual deputy and the inmate in that room there all by themselves. So it’s a safety issue.”
Price said as it stands, after an arrest is made, it can take as long as four hours before a deputy is finished processing the inmate. With central booking, he said, the deputy still will make the arrest, but the inmate then is handed over to the detention center for processing.
While the public safety building will not require any extra staffing, because of the addition of central booking, the detention center will need to more personnel “based on operational requirements,” according to Crabtree’s presentation.
Warden Herbert Dennis said the plans also make for a more secure detention center.
“When we actually have visitation and the public enter the building, we don’t actually have a waiting area for the public to sit,” Dennis said.
In the new public safety building, storage would be improved with the addition of garages constructed next to the building. There also would be a new secure parking lot between the two structures, as well as a visitors parking lot.
Additionally, the 911 substation in Lynch would be closed and moved to the public safety building.
According to Crabtree’s presentation, the earliest construction could begin on the detention center is 2020, with a projected completion date of June 2023.
Crabtree said the detention center, sheriff’s office and OES would not need to cease operations at any point during construction.