Greene County announces northwest of Springfield location for jail construction

Published: Dec. 2, 2019 at 2:25 PM CST
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The Greene County Commission Monday announced the purchase of 23 acres of land in the northwest part of the county for the site of a new county jail.

The land is located at Division Street and Haseltine Road, east of White Chapel Cemetery and south of the Springfield-Branson National Airport. The county bought it from SCI Missouri Funeral Services Inc. for $679,545. The county expects to break ground as early as spring of 2020.

“A great deal of hard work and due diligence has been conducted to get to this point and the citizens of Greene County can be proud that a suitable location has been determined to best use the funds and resources we have been entrusted with to make this project a reality for the community,” said Greene County Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon.

Since the design phase was started on the Greene County jail, many facts have changed that necessitated moving the jail to a location beyond the main Greene County campus. The most significant example is construction materials. At a key point in this process it was discovered designing the jail with steel pods would be cost prohibitive and possibly delay construction up to two years due to potential availability of product. With this in mind, on May 14, the Greene County Commission voted to alter construction to include precast cells. Another issue discovered during preliminary building designs indicated that, based on current campus space, the Greene County jail would need to be at least an 8-story building. An additional important consideration throughout this process has also been the small foot print of the building site on campus. Not only was this driving up construction cost, it allowed no space for future expansion. With all these factors weighed and after much consideration, it was determined the jail needed to be moved to a space off campus. On May 21 of this year, the Commission granted approval to pursue off-site property.

Moving the jail to this new location creates an opportunity to relocate most of the Greene County Sheriff Office operations to one campus and the long-term benefits are substantial: the redesigned jail at a new location will save $95 million in staffing cost from the original resolution over the next 20 years due to indirect supervision being utilized with having more area to spread out the cell pods horizontally as opposed to vertically.

“We continue to work to develop a jail that meets our short and long-term needs and very much look forward to a state-of-the-art design that provides efficient use of the space and manpower,” said Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott.

Below are some important statistics related to the Greene County jail/Sheriff’s Office:

Current jail/Sheriff’s Office location

-Year built: 2001

-Houses 708 inmates, but the record was 960 inmates

-Current number of Sheriff’s Office employees: 409

-Number of counties where Greene County houses inmates: 10 (the furthest away is Montgomery County, which is 206 miles away or a nearly three hour transport, one way.)

-5 schools within 0.5 miles

-11 schools within 1 mile

-23 schools within 1.5 miles

-30 schools within 2 miles

New jail/Sheriff’s Office location

-Anticipated construction completion: 2022

-Number of beds per resolution: not to exceed 1,407

-Anticipated number of Sheriff’s Office employees: final jail design will determine the need for additional staffing

-0 schools within 0.5 miles

-0 schools within 1 mile

-1 school within 1.5 miles

-3 schools within 2 miles

Many people in the community are concerned that a jail will be built just a few yards from where some of their loved ones are buried at White Chapel Cemetery.

Others, like Bert Blanton who live nearby, don't think it's that big of a deal.

"This is paradise," he said.

He and his wife have lived on a farm along Hazeltine Road for decades.

"We asked where the good soil was in Greene County and they said well it's out by the airport. So that's when we come out here by the airport," explained Blanton.

He said they've made a good living off the land.

"All the way from potatoes to flowers. Nationally known for gladiolas," he said.

Blanton said he was a bit surprised to find out that the new Greene County Jail might be built on land across the street from his home.

He said,"It's been on the market for over five years over there on that corner."

Blanton has been trying to sell his farm. He thinks the county is getting a good deal.

"We got 27 acres and we're asking $1.2 million for it," he explained.

Many people have taken to social media to voice their dismay for the location of the product.

Blanton said he's not concerned.

"You just got to live with it or move out of it," he said.

There are still so many unanswered questions about this project including the cost to transport inmates from the courthouse. Also, will bail bond companies be permitted to operate nearby.

County commissioners, administrators and the sheriff weren't available to speak on Monday about this.

A news conference will be held Tuesday afternoon.