BAY MINETTE – Baldwin County has purchased the municipal complex that includes the Bay Minette Police Department to make room for a project to expand the county jail.
Commissioners voted Tuesday to buy the complex across Hoyle Avenue for $895,000. Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack said the purchase will allow him to move his offices to the Bay Minette city site. The current sheriff’s offices will be demolished to allow room for a new tower for the Baldwin County Corrections Center.
“When we started several years ago looking at what we’re going to have to do, in our feasibility study, our biggest concern was where do we put this addition to the county jail,” Mack told commissioners. “Initially, we were looking at putting it on the north side of the facility, which is where there’s a parking lot. To do that we would have had to build the tower and connect it either by a tunnel or by an over-the-road walkway, which actually added about $1.5 to $2 million to the contract.”
The sheriff said the only location on the current jail site where the tower could be built is the site of his office.
“So, at that point in time, the architects recommended we use the existing green space, which you see now at the Corrections Center where the old jail used to be and where my office is located now at 310 Hand Ave.,” Mack said. “So, in order for that to happen, my office has to be leveled. It has to go away.”
The schedule for the project calls for most of the space in the Bay Minette city complex to be renovated for sheriff’s offices. The sheriff will move into the new office and the current facility will be torn down.
Once the existing building is demolished, work will begin on the new tower.
Mack said renovations should take about eight months and the entire project is scheduled to be done is three years.
The total cost of the project is $32 million for the new tower and $7 million for other renovations, according to county budget reports. The new tower will add 300 to 400 beds to the jail.
The Bay Minette Police Department will stay in its current location until a new station can be built. The plan also allows Bay Minette to lease the police station for two years while the new city facility can be constructed.
Bay Minette Mayor Bob Wills said city officials had discussed the move with the county, but jail construction now needs to start before the new police station will be ready.
“It was going to be, we roll out, they roll in kind of thing and frankly the time schedule got stepped up here about three or four months ago,” Wills said. “The need is now for them to begin their work which means we are not prepared to move our police department out. We are moving our other activities out.”
The Bay Minette Police Station takes up about one third of the complex. Mack said his offices will have enough space with the rest of the facility. Other county offices will be moved into the police department site when Bay Minette’s new station is completed.