FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — As Thursday’s meeting with a federal judge approaches, Allen County Commissioners continue to vet possible sites to build a new jail.
But the contested location at Paulding and Adams Center Roads continues to be the “primary site,” according to Commissioner Nelson Peters.
“Is it the best site? I don’t think it necessarily is,” Peters pondered Tuesday night. “Will there be room for further exploration? I hope so. Are there better sites out there? I think so.
“But without checking into them and looking into it a little bit further, we’re not going to be able to get those questions answered. So nothing’s off the table as we continue to try and solve this monstrous problem and we’ll continue to try and find the best solution.”
Peters was not sure if federal judge Damon R. Leichty will entertain anything but the quickest plan to provide relief of the “inhumane” conditions he found in the overcrowding case against the current jail.
That would require building on 120 acres currently owned by the county in southeast Fort Wayne, which neighbors strongly oppose as another negative for the area.
Peters said he has heard those complaints, which is why Commissioners have vetted seven total sites.
“We’re looking at proximity to neighborhoods, proximity to schools, we’re looking at soil samples,” he said. “Will the site actually hold a jail of that magnitude? What about costs? There are a number of variables that are going into it ultimately.”
Peters worried the judge’s timeline will trump all those concerns.
“It would be nice to be able to get additional time to impress upon him the need to find the best solution. As he comes in from afar, as it were, I’m not sure he sees the tenor of what’s going on right now in Fort Wayne and Allen County.”
The status hearing begins at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the downtown federal courthouse.
WANE 15 will provide coverage of Thursday’s meeting.