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Utah County commissioners will decide next week whether to pursue building a new jail north of the Springville/-Spanish Fork Airport.

After reviewing almost 20 possible sites, county engineer Clyde Naylor said a 44.9 acre parcel of property at 250 West and 2700 North in Spanish Fork is the most feasible location."The land is fairly level and grows nothing but sagebrush," Naylor said. "Utilities are easily accessible and the freeway is close by. It will be less than a 10-minute ride to the courthouse."

The county began searching for a site about three months ago when plans to build a new jail north of the current facility fell through. Residents near the jail opposed the plan and convinced Provo officials to pass restrictive zoning requirements that eliminated the site.

Provo offered a parcel on the Ironton property, but the land is contaminated with toxic waste and contains several acres of wetlands. Commissioners called off a bond election scheduled for November and decided to look outside of Provo.

The site proposed by Naylor is jointly owned by Springville and Spanish Fork and is located north of the airport and west of the new National Guard Armory. County officials will meet with Springville officials Tuesday to discuss the proposal. Spanish Fork officials have supported the idea and recently changed zoning requirements for industrial zones to allow the jail.

"They want the jail there and they made a change in their zoning so it can be there," Naylor said.

Wednesday, commissioners will vote on whether to negotiate with officials from the two cities to purchase the land. Naylor said property in the area has been selling for between $6,000 and $10,000 an acre. The county likely will offer $8,000 an acre.

"Hopefully we can get people to come to that meeting and tell us whether they like the idea or not," Naylor said.

The land has no toxic waste problems, no wetlands and is centrally located for excellent radio communications. With the airport nearby, inmates who are extradited from out-of-state can be readily transported. Also, because the land is owned by the two cities, the county would not be removing property from the tax rolls.

The county hired an architect several months ago to begin designing a 298-bed facility with an adjacent office building to house the sheriff's department. State officials also have expressed interest in building a new youth detention center adjacent to the new jail. Preliminary estimates for the jail project are between $17 million and $18 million.

"We'll start to refine that figure once we have a site selected," Naylor said.

If the county decides to purchase the property and a deal is negotiated with the two cities, a special bond election could be held in the spring. The current jail exceeds capacity and county officials fear a lawsuit.