If Washington County Commissioner Russ Gallian has his way, a new county jail might be built next door to a racetrack and fairgrounds.
Gallian surprised County Planner John Willie at a Monday commission meeting when he announced his idea to place the jail on the same 420-acre plot of land as the two recreational facilities.Gallian said the current 70-bed jail is too small to accommodate growth.
"We not only have to plan for what we need now, but for very far in the future," he said. "That's what we're trying to do."
Meantime, the commission gave tentative approval for the lease of a 15- to 20-bed modular unit to be attached to the current jail. It would house weekend inmates during the next two years, which is about the same length of time it would take to construct a new facility.
The proposal to build the new jail on land next to State Route 9 near the Quail Creek Reservoir turnoff is preliminary, Gallian said. But it deserves consideration, he added.
Gallian insisted that it would not be unusual for a jail to be located on the same property as a fairgrounds.
"There's a lot of land out there," he said. "The property is equivalent to three-quarters of a mile squared. That's plenty of property."
The racetrack and fairgrounds are to be built there, occupying 120 acres. Willie said he had no plans for the remaining 300 acres.
"A jail could go there," he said, "but we'd have to amend our proposal to the Bureau of Land Management."
Willie has already sent a proposal to the BLM outlining the use for the property.