PRINCETON — When bids for the new Bureau County law enforcement center came in much higher than expected last month, project plans were tweaked and the venture was rebid.
This month, Bob Albrecht, a member of the county's building and grounds committee, reported the lowest bid for the new plan came in at $11.9 million from Vissering Construction Co. of Streator.
The cost is slightly higher than the county wanted to spend, but still much lower than the original bids that came in between $17 million and $19 million.
The county board unanimously approved the lowest bidder during Tuesday's meeting, which means the law enforcement center project at 800 Ace Road in Princeton can continue moving forward.
After the meeting, Bureau County Sheriff Jim Reed expressed his enthusiasm to move forward with the project. He said the idea of a new jail has been discussed for many years and by several boards, but until now has never come to fruition.
Reed said a groundbreaking date has yet to be scheduled. However, he is hoping it will be sometime this fall, weather permitting.
The reasons for the original bids being so high for this project were discussed last month by Henry Pittner, representative of the architecture firm BKV Group, which is overseeing this project. Those reasons included inflation, increased labor costs and the high cost of precast concrete.
Pittner also said only four manufacturers in the U.S. do prison construction work at this scale, which means they can charge a premium for their services.
Reed and his staff were forced to sit down with an architect and revise the original plans to better suit the project cost.
In the tweaked design, there will be four fewer jail beds and a redesigned kitchen area, which eliminates the need for an addition for the kitchen area.
The reconfiguration stems from the BuEComm 911 center no longer moving out to the law enforcement center at this time. During this planning, BuEComm learned it would be getting an upgraded phone system, and moving it would cost the county an extra $40,000.
Therefore, the decision was made to keep BuEComm in its current location, which is adjacent to the Princeton Police Department. Reed said it is possible BuEComm could move into the center at a later time.
The new law enforcement center will replace the obsolete Bureau County Jail and sheriff's office on Park Avenue West near the courthouse. It was built in 1974, is expensive to maintain, and is out of compliance with state regulations.
The project will be paid for by a one-half-cent sales tax that voters approved in the November 2018 election. The tax is expected to generate $900,000 a year, which will be used to cover the debt service on bonds sold to finance the facility.