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One last hurdle for jail expansion

"A Kitsap County plan that will more than double the county jail's capacity could receive final approval from the Port Orchard City Council Nov. 27, paving the way for the estimated $24.7 million endeavor.Larry Bertholf, county corrections chief, expressed relief that the planned expansion could be under way soon, after nearly 18 months of planning.The jail hasn't had an empty bed space once over the last three and a half years, Bertholf said. We are currently committed to keeping intake down to 275 people at any given time, although the current facility has 200 beds.Built nearly 16 years ago with state funds, the jail was expected to meet the county's needs for two decades. It fell short of that target, said William Nogle, a county accountant overseeing the construction project.We want to do it right this time, Bertholf said of the impending jail expansion, thought to accommodate county needs over the next 20 years.The overcrowded status of the jail is very stressful for the corrections officers for obvious reasons, Bertholf said. Those who are in jail are the ones who are most likely to be a danger to themselves or others and, when you have all of these inmates in close quarters with some sleeping on floors, hostility can become an issue.Already in place at the county are alternative to incarceration programs for offenders who are least likely to be a danger to themselves or others, Bertholf said. Those programs, such as electronic-home monitoring and supervised work release, have helped prevent further overcrowding.Bertholf said the expansion could increase the 200-bed facility to a 512-bed facility. Designs are being crafted on behalf of the county by Portland, Ore.-based KMD Architects.So the expanded complex can work efficiently with the existing facility, the Portland architects suggested connecting a 55,553-square-foot structure along the south side of the current jail. A separate, 8,000-square-foot county maintenance building also could be constructed at the southwest corner of the courthouse campus that would replace three older maintenance buildings currently in use.Nogle said the entire complex would share supervisors, maintenance crews, correctional staff members and kitchen crews and operate efficiently as a single unit. The proximity of the expansion to the courthouse is also a plus. While certain pods will be designated high security, others will be designated medium security, low security and work release.In addition to utility, the county asked the Portland architects to account for the unique surroundings of the county campus.This jail expansion is going to be constructed in a unique place surrounded on all four sides by residential structures, Nogle said. We have tried to be conscientious from the beginning to be good neighbors.Officials, including the Port Orchard Planning Commission, directed architects to pay special attention to the design of the jail so that its look will blend in with the surrounding neighborhood.For instance, architects suggest sloping the jail's roof and providing intricate landscaping around the entire facility as visual buffers for those living immediately across the street.Though the jail will be significantly expanded, the number of parking spaces available to the public and employees aren't expected to jump up significantly. The Port Orchard Planning Commission denied the county a special permit that would have allowed crews to construct an additional parking lot across Taylor Street.That in mind, Nogle predicts that the number of parking spaces will remain the same. Only difference will be, any employee or public official who wants a guaranteed parking spot will have to pay for one.While the county puts out a request for construction bids, site work on the campus will commence. The expanded jail is expected to open in late 2002 or early 2003. "

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