Answers to commonly asked questions can be found below. This section will be updated.
What process was used to select Elevatus Architecture as the lead architect on the project?
The Board of Commissioners, acting as the executive branch of county government, is provided wide lattitude in Indiana Code in selecting what are called "professional services" (e.g. architects, engineers, lawyers, accountants) where the skillset, experience, and aptitude of the individual or firm is of paramount importance. Rather than a bid or Request for Proposal (RFP) process, when there is not a known professional service provider, government units will sometimes use a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process. In an RFQ process, firms or individuals are asked to provide their qualifications based on the project or task needing completed. As an example, the State of Indiana commonly uses an RFQ process in selecting engineers for road and bridge projects. Some firms have more expertise and experience than others in bridges that span rivers or elevate over existing roads or train tracks. After selecting for qualification, a price is then negotiated with the individual or firm deemed most qualified. It is possible that a price cannot be succesfully negotiated, so the price negotiation process would start with the next possible firm or individual.
For the new jail project, the Board of Commissioners asked their Owners Representative - Construction Controls, Inc - to put together a list of questions for the RFQ. These questions address the history and financial viability of the company, its expeience performing similar projects, the team members who would be assigned to the project, current projects underway, how they would approach a project like this, what planning/design methodology they utilize, and references. Construction Controls, Inc provided the RFQ to four architectural firms located in Indiana and Ohio who have experience designing confinement centers, as it is a specialized area of practice for an architect. Three firms responded to the RFQ. Construction Controls and the Board of Commissioners reviewed the submissions and ultimately selected Elevatus Architecture as the most qualified firm for this particular project.
Why can't the county use ________________ for the jail?
Our office has received several calls and emails, in addition to reading letters to the editor in the local newspaper, asking why certain locations or existing buildings can't be used for the new jail. Specifically mentioned by many are 1) land the county owns at the northwest corner of Carroll Road and State Road 3 (the former Byron Hospital site) and 2) the Rousseau Centre (what was previously called the City-County Building) on Main Street in downtown Fort Wayne.
Former Byron Hospital - What many individuals may not know is that in September 2013, the Board of Commissioners gave the Town of Huntertown 11 acres in the middle of their north campus parcel to drill wells to expand the capacity of their water utility to provide service to an ever growing community. In combination with other county government functions already on the campus, there is not a sufficient section of property on which to build a jail. Some modern jails are still built as towers, but largely are built as a series of pods and buildings no more than two stories tall. The amount of acreage needed for a modern jail, along with planning and zoning requirements for setbacks and buffering, do not lend themselves to that site. In addition, it is not centrally located in Allen County. The jail serves all police departments in Allen County. The distance from Monroeville or Woodburn to Carroll and State Road 3 makes the location prohibitive for an officer. State Road 3 is a congested, busy road and an officer needs to quickly book an arrestee in the jail and return to service in their assigned area. Location matters.
Rousseau Centre - A few individuals have suggested that the county remodel the Rousseau Centre to become the jail and turn the jail into a government office building. Beyond the logistical issues of finding a temporary office space for the Fort Wayne Police Department, the Allen County Sheriff's Department, and nearly a dozen county offices that are housed in the Rousseau Centre, it is just simply a non-starter. Jails are purpose built and taking a 50 year old office building and converting into a jail would be cost-prohibitive. The same is true of the jail into an office building. Every cell has water and sewer lines, HVAC ducting, electrical, and lighting. The water and sewer lines are often encased in concrete. Turning this into an offices building would be cost-prohibitive. Additionally, the current jail, which is undersized to meet the needs of our community, is already larger than the Rousseau Centre. A swap just doesn't work.
The county considered nearly every permutation of buildings and land at its disposal before it decided on the construction of a new jail as the long-term solution to rectifying the unconstitutional conditions of the current jail.
What criteria are being used to select the locations being vetted by the Board of Commissioners?
See Update Tab on September 23. Elevatus Architect Cory Miller explained the criteria matrix in detail at the Commissioners' Legislative Session. This may also may be viewed on Facebook.
As the Board of Commissioners have mentioned publicly several times, the location proposed in the plan filed with the federal court was chosen quickly to satisfy the timeline imposed by the court. The Board of Commissioners has not stopped vetting properties. Some of the factors used in evaluating whether a site should be considered include:
- Size and Layout - A parcel needs to be adequately sized and appropriately shaped to accomodate the pod system used in modern jails. The current jail towers sit on a little more than three acres of land. A new jail site would need to be forty to fifty acres at a minimum to handle the 350,000 - 450,000 square foot building, parking, ingress/egress, stormwater detention, interior roads for deliveries and prisoner transportation, and adequate setbacks, buffering and screening required by zoning rules.
- Soils - Parts of Allen County had been swampland for millinea. The county can be are very wet and the soils are not always suitable for concrete slabs and two story construction.
- Utilities - A jail is a heavy utility customer, the presence of ample water, sewer, electricity, natural gas is important.
- Acquisition Costs - Money spent on land is money that can't go into the design and construction of the jail, so our ability to acquire land at a reasonable price is an important consideration
- Proximity Factors - A parcel's proximity to medical facilities, existing court facilities, public transit, and law enforcement areas of operation. In addition, the existing and future development of the area around the potential site must be considered.