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Potential Fayette lockup locations include airport

| Friday, July 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Fayette County group that is exploring options for a new jail has identified three potential sites for the proposed lockup.

Al Ambrosini, a commissioner who organized the prison working group in November, on Thursday identified the sites as a 100-acre parcel in German Township, a 30-acre parcel at the Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport in Dunbar Township and a 77-acre site on the county's fairgrounds in Dunbar Township.

Commissioners have not decided whether to build a jail to replace the county's 124-year-old prison, but Ambrosini and Vincent Zapotosky on Tuesday approved a $24,000 study that will determine the cost to build new, renovate the existing facility or do nothing. Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink dissented.

During Thursday's meeting with the prison working group, Ambrosini said the German Township site is located off Route 43 and Wynn Road, near Hunter Truck Sales. It is available for $850,000; tax records show it is owned by Scott and Allen Whyel of Farmington.

The airport parcel could be leased for approximately $35,000 per year, Ambrosini said, but it would require FAA approval because it is in the path of a runway.

The county owns the parcel at the fairgrounds, Ambrosini said. It is on a portion of the grounds that are not used by the fair, he said.

Jim Killinger, leader of the group's architectural team, said the three sites were narrowed from a list of 18. The three are all within five miles of the courthouse, he said.

Ambrosini said a number of factors will be studied to determine which site might be recommended for the proposed prison, including access to public utilities.

The three sites will be included in the $24,000 study, which was awarded to Sleighter Engineering of Uniontown and Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates Architects of Mechanicsburg.

The study is expected to be completed within two months. In the interim, Ambrosini said the prison working group will identify a potential architect for the proposed project.

Although Zimmerlink on Tuesday objected to awarding the $24,000 needs-assessment contract without seeking competitive bids, Ambrosini said the same process likely will be used to select an architect.

“The architect who is recommended and agreed upon by the commissioners will most likely not be selected because of a low bid process,” Ambrosini said.

“It will be selected because of their capabilities on what we need to do with the prison.”

Counties are not required by law to obtain competitive bids for professional services, but Zimmerlink on Tuesday questioned the county's failure to do so with the $24,000 needs assessment.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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