Leavenworth County officials are once again preparing for the demolition of the crumbling jail next to the Justice Center.
Leavenworth County officials are once again preparing for the demolition of the crumbling jail next to the Justice Center. The Leavenworth County Commission Monday reviewed a $35,000 sole-source contract with Treanor Architects in Topeka for a plan to guide the demolition of the circa-1939 structure. When finished, the plan will give the eventual contractor charged with doing the work a guide for dealing with some of the more challenging aspects of the project — namely, the asbestos and mold inside the facility. The former jail stands to the north of the Justice Center, the building that replaced it in 2000. The footprint of the building was part of the original plans for the Justice Center as a site for possible expansion. According to County Public Works Director Mike Spickelmier, the county plans to turn the site into a parking lot. Since 2000, Forslund said Treanor has been involved and is familiar with the property. County Counselor David Van Parys said sole-source contracts are permitted for services in Kansas. The county had in 2008 asked the city of Leavenworth’s Preservation Commission to grant a demolition permit for the jail. The commission denied that permit based on the fact that the jail, designed by Myron Feth, the son of William Feth and one half of the famed architectural team that also built Leavenworth City Hall and a host of other buildings and residences in Leavenworth, was in the environs of the Leavenworth County Courthouse, a registered historic site. Commissioner Clyde Graeber asked if the county needed the demolition plan in the first place. “It seems like an awful lot of dollars to invest to get plans to tear down a building,” he said. Spickelmier and County Buildings and Grounds Director John Forslund both said that the concerns over mold, lead and asbestos were the primary reasons that the department was looking for a detailed plan ahead of time. “In order to write a proper contract and provide contract documents to any contractor, considering the environmental remediation that is required that we’re aware of, I would not feel comfortable proceeding without someone else of that capability,” Spickelmier said. Furthermore, he said the plan could do more than put him at ease. “I think it also would help us in front of the commission if we showed what our plan actually was,” Spickelmier added. Even with the plan completed, Van Parys said the county might be required to apply again for a permit, meaning they will first have to appear before the preservation commission and then appeal the Leavenworth City Commission, if it is again denied. “Are you not getting the cart before the horse?” Graeber asked, referring to the permit application process. Though a demolition permit would come with a six-month window during which the commission would have to get the work done, Forslund said the demolition plan would be valid for much longer. “We can shelf the design once it’s done and dust it off once it’s ready,” he said. The commission approved the contract with Treanor.