$1 million expansion planned for juvenile detention center in downtown Lewiston

The Nez Perce County juvenile detention center, at 140 10th St. in downtown Lewiston, is set to have a $1 million expansion soon.

According to Nez Perce County Commissioner Douglas Havens, the benefits of a coming two-story, $1 million addition to the juvenile detention center in downtown Lewiston will be twofold.

First, it will allow all juvenile corrections staff to work at the same location at 140 10th St., easing logistical issues that have troubled Justice Services Director Shawn McDowell for years. Second, it will free up the county’s Rapaich Building at 1113 F St. for other uses, once those staffers move out.

“It just gives us some options with a vacant building,” Havens said. “It’s just another piece of exempt property that we can deal with.”

That space will be needed when construction eventually begins on a new county courthouse, likely within the next few years. That project will require the land currently occupied by the county prosecutor’s office, so staff there could move into the Rapaich Building during construction.

There has also been some discussion about bringing public defender services under the county umbrella, and the building could provide office space for those attorneys, Havens said.

The project will add more than a dozen new offices and a couple of conference rooms on its two stories. The county included $1 million in its fiscal year 2020 budget to fund the addition, but Havens said an early estimate came in at $1.1 million.

A preliminary design done by Brotnov Architecture and Planning of Clarkston included two stairwells, but Havens said the addition can still adhere to building codes and lower the cost by reducing that to one stairwell. Brotnov was one of the firms that responded to a request for qualifications, but the commission won’t award the contract for final design until its regular meeting Monday.

The county may also put off construction until next fall in hopes of finding a more favorable bidding environment. Design should be complete in time for the spring building season next year, but the high level of competition typical in that season could drive up the price of construction.

“We might hold off on this until we think we can get a more acceptable bid,” Havens said. “We just didn’t know when we set the budget up how it would come together.”

McDowell initially brought up the idea of an addition to the juvenile detention center last year, and one of his staff members drew up a rough plan that appealed to the commissioners.

Mills may be contacted at jmills@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2266.

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