Ladies and gentlemen, we have a finalist in the weeklong contest for the most attractive temporary jail site in the city.
After days of judging contestants' assets and flaws in search of the perfect site that would best represent Salt Lake County, Salt Lake County Sheriff Aaron Kennard has found his favorite.Kennard wants to build two warehouses on private property in South Salt Lake next to the Oxbow Jail. Contractor Bruce Alder owns eight acres of land between Ninth and 12th West off 3300 South.
Alder Construction has offered to build two warehouses there, lease them to the county and then find another use for them when Kennard no longer needs them for his jail.
If the commission likes this site, the contractor could start next week and beds could be ready as soon as mid-July, Kennard said. "That's the soonest anyone could have anything ready to go."
The bargain of this beauty: The site is only a few blocks from the Oxbow Jail, making security, food and medical care a short drive away.
"This is already within my infrastructure. It's so close to Oxbow that I can already provide security, food and medical care," Kennard said.
Kennard pitched the idea to South Salt Lake Mayor Randy Fitts Friday morning and got his political blessing. The city likes the idea of collecting taxes on the new warehouses, the sheriff said.
Kennard and Alder are talking about two warehouses totaling 50,000 square feet. "Nothing fancy. No frills," Kennard said.
"Mr. Alder is crunching the numbers as we speak. I think the cost will come back in the ballpark we have been talking about." That has ranged from $300,000 to a recent estimate of $1 million.
Now Kennard takes the idea to the Salt Lake County Commission. At least one commissioner will likely be hesistant. "I think Salt Lake City is panicking over a summer crime wave that's really nothing but drunks and derelicts."
Instead of building a temporary jail, the county should simply pay Volunteers of America to open more detox beds, he suggested.
"What the city police do in the summer is go into Pioneer Park, scour it, then want us to jail the people they find. These people are basically detox problems. Instead of going out and building a temporary jail, we ought to handle the detox problems on a detox basis."