Saturday, October 24, 2020
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Porter On Jail Expansion: Something Has To Give

Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter said he and Sheriff Eddie Farris have spent the past three days trying to regroup on the Justice Center and Jail expansion.

“We’re looking at possibly the options that that we have on those other two pieces of property and then the sixth parcel of property that we talked about,” Porter said. “That’s a possibility and we’ll be working with that, working with that owner. But anything is an option right now and just trying to trying to regroup and see exactly where we are and what we need to do with that regrouping.”

The county needs at least 500 parking spaces with the current expansion plans for the justice center and jail. With the purchases approved Monday, the county stands some 300 spaces short of that number.

The sixth parcel, the First Realty office complex on South Lowe Avenue, would not provide enough parking even if the county were to purchase the land and tear down the buildings. Several commissioners expressed concerns about not using the existing structures. Commissioners voted to give Porter the go-ahead to explore purchase options on that property.

One option that will not be easily reconsidered, Porter said, would be looking at a new site away from downtown Cookeville for the facility.

“That’s, I think, pretty much a done deal, but I mean, they can always change their mind,” Porter said. “But I think the sheriff and I both think that the adding an addition on to the existing building, because we’ve already got so much invested in that existing site, would be the most economical and would be the the best thing for the county at this point.”

Several commissioners said parcels one and two, south of the Justice Center along Spring and Broad Street were overpriced. The underlying sentiment at Monday’s meeting seemed to be the county can get a better price.

“The problem is that what you can buy a piece of property for three or four or five years ago is not what you can buy a piece of property for today,” Porter said. “I negotiated those prices of those properties down considerably from where the asking price is started out. And that’s the bottom dollar that the people that own the property said they’re going to take.”

Porter said he has begun the process of purchasing the four parcels approved by commissioners Monday night, notifying landowners that the county plans to exercise its options. Survey and financing work will begin.

He said other land around the existing structure is tough to come by.

“There’s just not a there just not any other land that I know about other than the parcels that were listed before the commission that’s available in that area to be able to purchase,” Porter said.

“If we want to do the jail expansion, something has to give. We got to find another piece of property or buy one of those piece of properties or, you know, to make it happen.”

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