Local News


County mulls possible uses for jail

By GORDON JACKSON The Brunswick News

The future of the county jail in downtown Brunswick may be determined by a committee that will be appointed by the Glynn County Commission in early April.

Committee members may also have the task of finding a tenant for the I and J street property adjacent to the detention center. The property was purchased by the county before the decision was made to abandon jail expansion plans and build a new facility outside Brunswick city limits.

County officials at a meeting Tuesday said committee members should consider all possible uses with one exception: a wrecking ball is not to be part of the building's immediate future after it is becomes available for new tenants a year from now.

The county will accept resumes from applicants until the end of the business day on April 9. Each county commissioner will make one appointment to the committee.

Once they are appointed, committee members will be asked to consider the cost with the understanding that all renovations will be paid by the organization that uses the facility.

Due to the building's size, multiple tenants should be considered, county officials said.

The committee will be asked to issue a final report by Nov. 1.

"We have to be able to keep our options open," commission chair Mary Hunt said. "I think there will be suggestions made that will give us a good grasp (of possible uses)."

Hunt and other commissioners said history has shown how much controversy jail decisions can be and they are determined to avoid conflict regarding the fate of the building after it is no longer a jail.

"We need to learn from our past mistakes," Hunt said. "I think the input is necessary."

Some commissioners questioned if the committee should also be looking at uses for the cleared property at I and J streets. They noted that discussions are ongoing between the state and county over the possible lease of the J Street block for a new Department of Family and Childrens Services office.

DFACS officials said the building would be about 27,000 square feet and house as many as 85 employees. The county will have a say in the exterior design of the building to ensure it blends with other structures in the area, DFACS representatives said.

Commissioner Clyde Taylor said he wants to learn if the state plans to lease the property before asking the jail committee to make a recommendation for the land.

One of the advantages of the lease is it would be a 20-year agreement that would allow the county to continue to own the property.

"What we need to do as a commission is approve a resolution saying we support this project," Hunt said.

Commissioners also discussed ongoing plans to renovate the county's public works complex. The first phase will be funded with revenue generated by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax No. 5. But the money won't be enough for all the improvements planned in coming years.

The next planned work will be improvements to the entrance to the facility, as well as the addition of parking spaces and signs. Demolition of the engineering and training building, site work and the paving projects will cost an estimated $394,000, county officials said.

* Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about government and other local topics. Contact him at gjackson@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 323.