CANYON COUNTY — After a comprehensive study of Canyon County facilities and needs, county officials believe they have a proposal that would keep county services at the current Caldwell location but also expand space for inmates and courtrooms.
The multi-phase proposal would hinge on a $10.4 million allocation from the Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency.
The proposal comes after three failed attempts to pass a bond for a new jail on sites away from the courthouse. It would drop the plan to build a jail on county property purchased on U.S. Highway 20/26 north of Caldwell. The new jail proposal has no cost estimate or timeline, county commissioners said.
The county will conduct four town hall meetings at different locations in the next three weeks to present the proposal to the public.
The proposal starts with building a new juvenile detention center and using the current juvenile detention center to ease jail crowding.
The preliminary proposals are part of two options from a 20-year plan presented to county officials in January by consultants from Carter Goble Lee of South Carolina. The option county commissioners prefer would eventually build a new jail on property where the work release center sits across North 13th Avenue from the courthouse in Caldwell. It may also close through traffic on the Albany Street block in front of the courthouse and the North 13th Avenue block next to the courthouse.
“We’re just at a point with 190,000 people we’ve got to do something,” Commissioner Kathy Alder said about the proposed plan. “We don’t have forever to do this. We’ve got to start relieving some of the facilities (overcrowding).”
The proposals are based on Carter Goble Lee’s county population growth projections and county staff needs projected to 2030.
Why not build a jail away from the courthouse?
The county has failed to get a super majority of voters to pass a bond to build a new jail three times since 2006. The most recent jail bond election, in 2010, would have put a $46 million facility on land the county purchased on U.S. Highway 20/26 near Interstate 84. But Commissioner David Ferdinand said Thursday county officials were “sold a bill of goods” regarding the need for several acres for a new jail at that location.
“We were convinced by (consultants Carter Goble Lee) that there was a different way to do this,” Ferdinand said about the new proposed location for a jail.
Ferdinand said county residents have told him they would support building a new jail next to the courthouse.
How would the county use urban renewal money?
Because the Caldwell urban renewal plan was extended until 2022, the agency could allow the county to $1.3 million annually between 2014 and 2022 for a total of $10.4 million. If approved, the county could borrow against that anticipated money, the commissioners explained Thursday. It would be county money used for the county, Ferdinand said, and would allow funding without having to ask voters to approve a tax hike.
Canyon County public meetings to discuss proposals
- 5 p.m., Monday, March 26, Nampa City Council Chambers
- 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, Caldwell Police Station
- 5 p.m. Monday, April 2, Wilder Ambulance Station
- 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, Melba Senior Center