County awaits design, cost of new sheriff’s office

WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County officials expect an architectural firm to present potential options for a new sheriff’s office in May.

The county hired Grimm and Parker last year to study the law enforcement agency’s space needs and to come up with preliminary designs and sites for a new headquarters.

Sheriff Timothy C. Carter and Assistant County Administrator Evan Vass said recently that Grimm and Parker were expected to complete work on the first phase of the project this week. However, Carter said Wednesday that the architectural firm likely won’t present its findings for the first phase of the project until the Board of Supervisors work session May 5 or regular meeting the next week. Carter said he didn’t think the firm had a specific deadline by which they needed to finish the work and present the information to the county.

“I haven’t seen anything formal,” Carter said.

Representatives with the firm met with sheriff’s office staff as recently as this week as part of its ongoing study of the agency’s space needs. Carter said he’s seen some draft information for the firm’s report. Representatives have taken measurements of the agency’s office in the basement of the county circuit court building.

Architects are looking at “several different sites,” including property in the north end of Woodstock that the sheriff’s office received through its work with federal law enforcement agencies and then gave to the county. Representatives were taking measurements at the building Tuesday, Carter added. In fact, the firm is looking at closer to eight or nine potential sites in and around Woodstock, Carter said.

The sheriff’s office could move its headquarters to anywhere in the county if so desired.

“You could, but I think what you want is you want them centered to where the judicial center of the county is,” Carter said. “That’s why they’re primarily looking in Woodstock.”

The county committed to spending about $72,000 on the preliminary work for the project and budgeted $600,000 this fiscal cycle toward the project. Officials have used an estimated cost of $6 million for the project, though they expect to see a more accurate number with the architectural firm’s presentation. The county also would need to take further steps in the process, such as agreeing on a design and bidding out the project, to see a more accurate cost.

The firm likely won’t present its findings until after the Board of Supervisors adopts a budget for fiscal 2017.

County Administrator Mary T. Price’s proposed budget for fiscal 2017 initially included the $6 million cost estimate for the sheriff’s office complex. The Board of Supervisors agreed at a recent budget work session to remove the sheriff’s office complex and the $6 million cost estimate from a list of capital projects included in the proposed spending plan.

The sheriff has said he would seek to pay for the project out of asset forfeiture – funds his office receives through its joint investigations with federal law enforcement agencies. The sheriff’s office has approximately $3 million in asset forfeiture funds thus far. Whether or not the agency can expect to receive enough in asset forfeiture money to cover the entire cost of the project remains uncertain. The sheriff learned this week that the federal program was recently reinstated after being suspended for a short time.

The Board of Supervisors can determine whether or not to move forward on the project once it sees the architectural firm’s presentation and can determine the funding source, officials have said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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