Voters will have the final say as they take to the polls on Aug. 6 to decide the fate of a county public administration and jail facility to be located east of Adel.
The decision to move county administration offices to county-owned land east of Adel was highly debated in a 3-hour informational meeting held last night. Residents on both sides of the issue voiced their opinions on the move including radio personality Van Harden of Adel.
“I think we all understand that we are one of the fastest growing counties, but we are looking through the wrong end of the telescope,” he said. “The thing you have to sell me on is not the problem but the solution. You have voted unanimously that you want to go ahead with this plan, but the Adel City Council has voted unanimously that they don’t want to do this…You have Adel against Dallas County and vice versa.”
Supervisor Kim Chapman stated the board looked at other sites including the former Adel-DeSoto-Minburn Middle School but stated the option was not viable.
“We can put up a map but there’s no footprint available that would accommodate the needs of the county,” Chapman said. “You are asking for something that is not physically possible.”
The board looked at other options around the square including the Adel Christian Church, Adel Chrysler Dodge, Jeep and Ram, and the Culligan building, but stated there was no interest in selling the land to the county. They also entertained the idea of the Minburn School and land next to Harvey’s Greenhouse.
However, to accommodate current county facilities and plan for continued growth, the board decided a 40-acre site east of Adel would fit the bill.
“In 2011 we were the seventh fastest growing county in the U.S. and we were the 14th fastest last year,” Chair Mark Hanson said. “Dallas County’s population will continue to grow so that means we will have more challenges in the delivery of our government services.”
The 91,000 square-foot single-story building would sit on a little less than 19 acres facing Highway 6. The jail portion would be located on the east side of the building and could easily handle 90 prisoners. The facility could be expanded to house 122 inmates with no physical changes being done to the building.
Construction of a new facility as well as renovations to offices at 902 Court St., 121 Ninth St. and 201 N. Nile Kinnick Dr. would amount to $22 million. The county currently has $5.5 million available to put toward the project.
Adel resident Stan Norenberg objected to the $16.85 million bond referendum stating “there needs to be more studying done.”
“I think we need to study this issue more rather than jumping into the Aug. 6 vote,” he said. “It’s a huge investment and a big challenge for you guys, and I’m not at all in any hurry.”
Adel Mayor Jim Peters agreed, and stated how the former middle school still should be looked into further.
“The building is solid and has the square footage you need even if you had to add onto the building,” he said.
Hanson countered his statement saying the middle school is currently “off the discussion table”.
This statement brought about concerns from the public including A-D-M School Board President Tim Canney who stated possible use of the former middle school has not been voted or acted on by the board.
“We were in a facilities planning meeting and that was one proposal to create some additional space,” Canney said. “The group (school board) hasn’t decided on using the building, and we definitely haven’t voted on it. I know the post card (mailed out to Adel residents) states in the top bullet point that we have decided to keep the building and it has not happened. That is incorrect information.”
Chapman apologized for any misinformation and stated, “My intention is to not deceive the public. I’m trying to get the facts.”
Although there were residents who were against the move, Linda Rudolph expressed how she is voting ‘yes’ due to the amount of work the supervisors have placed into the project.
“I do believe the board has studied this plan and think there’s a lot of opportunity for Adel,” she said. “I think this is absolutely critical because there are some serious space issues.”
Others agreed stating by moving county offices outside of the downtown area would attract other businesses such as restaurants and bed and breakfasts.
If the vote does not pass on Aug. 6, the board said they do not have a “Plan B” at this point.
“As of today there is no ‘Plan B’,” Chapman said. “If this doesn’t pass the question will go back to the public and we will discuss it openly with them.”
After a back-and-forth discussion, Hanson concluded that the plan is well thought-out.
“I think it’s a good plan and that’s the plan I’m going to stick with,” he said. “No matter what happens there is no intention to harm Adel.”
Space needs in county government offices as well as the jail have been going on for well-over seven years, according to the Board of Supervisors, and have repeatedly stated building a new public safety and administration building could help ease those needs.
After multiple discussions on site selection, including looking at the former Adel-DeSoto-Minburn Middle School, the board unanimously voted at the end of April to approve a county administration and public safety facility east of Adel on county-owned property.
County functions including the assessor, recorder, veterans affairs, board of supervisors, human resources, auditor, operations administration and the treasurer would be located at the east Adel site.
However, the county is expected to maintain its offices at 902 Court St., 121 Ninth St. and 201 N. Nile Kinnick Dr. which will include offices such as planning and development, environmental health and human services.
If the vote passes, building of the new facility would not begin until spring and would take around 18 months for the county administration portion. The jail would take an estimated two years to construct.
According to discussions, homeowners with a $100,000 home would pay an estimated $14-$15 a year for the proposed facility.
The total cost of building the facility is around $22 million.