Artist’s rendering of proposed two-story jail expansion

Leonardtown, MD –The potential cost of the expansion and renovation of the St. Mary’s County Adult Detention Center has escalated by $5 million. A consultant made the recommendation for a 5,000-square-foot extra addition to the Commissioners of St. Mary’s County at their Aug. 30 meeting. The commissioners in turn unanimously agreed to submit the expanded project to the state to seek a 50 percent match for it.

The commissioners budgeted $16.2 million for the project in their Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) approved in May and effective July 1. That plan was requested by Sheriff Tim Cameron as an alternative to an earlier plan that just called for a renovation. The request was made after it was determined it would cost the county upwards of $8 million just to house inmates elsewhere during the renovations.

The plan in the CIP called for an addition that included female housing to accommodate a growing jail demographic population, medical services and central control. The renovation of the existing space would include expanded laundry and pretrial services and upgraded HVAC and security throughout.

April Potteroff of the engineering firm Ricci Greene Associates presented the commissioners with a revised plan costing $21.2 million that she said better accommodated what was needed for the facilities planned. That included a two-story, 13,000-square-foot addition to take into consideration site constraints on the current jail site.

Part of the additional costs would include an elevator for the two-story addition that is required by American with Disabilities Act regulations. Also a rerouting of a fire road is required. Potteroff said her company’s plan presented the “best of both worlds” between the original expansion plan from 2012 and the later revised renovation plan. It would give space for a needed population instead of wasting the one-time cost for relocating prisoners during renovation.

Commissioner Mike Hewitt [R – 2nd District] reminded everyone that the original jail expansion plan was shelved after the cost came in $7 million over budget. Petteroff’s company did not do that estimate. Director of Public Works and Transportation George Erichsen said the company that did it could provide no explanation for why it was so out of whack.

“I am not comfortable with anything that does not contain cost,” Hewitt said, observing that the proposal from the architect firm seemed told be a Mercedes plan. Potteroff admitted that it could be described that way but Erichsen said at this stage it was better to submit it that way to the state to see if they would agree to the 50/50 match.
Erichsen said it may be possible when the final engineering is done to trim $1-$2 million from the additional costs.

It’ll take some time to get word from the state on funding and then additional time to do the final design. Erichsen said the timetable calls for construction to begin in Fiscal Year 2020.

Contact Dick Myers at dick.myers@thebaynet.com