FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Allen County Commissioners are working toward finalizing the purchase of 2911 Meyer Rd. in order to build a new county jail there.
Friday, at the weekly commissioners’ meeting, they unanimously voted to contract with Foresight Consulting, to survey the 142-acre property, owned by local real estate magnate Bill Bean. The $18,000 contract is part of the due diligence necessary to complete the deal, Commissioner president Therese Brown said.
“The ultimate goal here is to validate the property lines that we’re actually purchasing,” Brown said. “We needed to have an updated survey to make sure what we’re buying is legitimately what we have believed we are buying. As in buying a house or any real estate, you want to make sure that you have the appropriate, proper legal description and so that’s what we’re doing. We just need to validate what we’re purchasing.”
Closing on the property is expected to come no more than three months after earnest money was exchanged in late December, Brown said after the weekly meeting. In the meantime, the commissioners still need approval for a contingency use from the Fort Wayne Board of Zoning Appeals, a meeting scheduled for Feb. 16 at 5:30 p.m. The location is already zoned for industrial use.
“The architect is still working on all of the changes that we suggested to the BZA that were recommended to us by the neighbors of Sunnymede and the surrounding area to address those, so they’re working through all those things. Once those are done, then there will be a product for us to share,” Brown said.
On Dec. 21, commissioners announced a contract to pay $6.3 million for the property located between Fort Wayne and New Haven, less than a mile south of S.R. 930, that was International Harvester’s Navistar campus until the company closed its Fort Wayne operations in 2015.
The jail, expected to cost between $300 and $350 million and measure about 400,000 square feet, will likely house 1,320 inmates, but activists and the commissioners themselves are looking to include a mental health facility. Jails house many inmates with mental health issues and national statistics indicate at least 20% of a jail population is severely mentally ill.
The jail is expected to be built on a one and a half story POD system with recreational areas at both ends. The newer jails have utilities built outside the cells which prevents inmates from flooding the cells or interfering with the infrastructure. Currently, at the Allen County Jail, inmates are able to deliver threats and contraband through the pipes that connect the 4-story jail. The original part was built in 1981 with additions built later.
The jail’s design should be available by April, but Cory Miller, president of Elevatus Architecture, the firm designing the jail with 80 jails nationwide under its belt, said an updated preliminary layout of the jail should be available the first week of February.
Neighbors in the Sunnymede development which abuts the property have asked for the county to help provide desperately needed drainage improvements and indicated they want employee parking closer to their homes rather than the sally port where inmates are transported.
Residents have also asked for additional visual screening, as in trees and landscaping, and a longer security fence.