Demolition of the old Leavenworth County Jail building began Tuesday. And county officials believe they've resolved issues that had raised concerns about delays to the project.
The former jail property, located at 503 S. Third St., is still owned by the county. After the demolition is finished, a parking lot will be constructed on that site.
The building reportedly was constructed in 1939 as a Works Progress Administration project. The jail was moved from the building after the Justice Center, which is located next door, opened in 2000.
Last week, Leavenworth County commissioners were briefed on an issue that had surfaced concerning equipment in the building that was said to belong to AT&T. And John Forslund, the county's director of buildings and grounds, said an employee of AT&T indicated the phone company needed to perform work that could cause a delay of up to four weeks.
Commissioners decided last week to proceed with the demolition but preserve the AT&T equipment.
Commissioners were told Tuesday the issue had been resolved and AT&T has no use for the equipment, which is said to be outdated.
Also Tuesday, commissioners discussed three art deco panels that had been removed from the front of the old jail building ahead of the demolition.
Last week, commissioners were asked to consider a change order with Kaaz Construction, the contractor handling the demolition, for the removal of the panels at a cost of $3,742.
County Counselor David Van Parys said the possibility of preserving the panels had been discussed with the Leavenworth City Commission when county officials were seeking a demolition permit from the city.
But at the time, county officials didn't know how much removing them for preservation would cost, and they didn't know it could cause a potential delay in the project, Van Parys said.
He said officials were unable to identify a use for the art deco panels.
County commissioners did not approve the change order, and they had planned to discuss the matter again this week.
But the panels were removed from the building Thursday afternoon.
Forslund said Tuesday that the panels are being stored safely on the east side of the property.
Because the change order was not approved, county officials feel the panels are the property of Kaaz Construction, according to County Administrator Pat Hurley.
Hurley said the company can do what it wants with the panels.
"So it is basically just part of the demolition," Commission Chairman Bob Holland said of removing the panels.
Hurley said he'd been contacted Friday by someone from the First City Museum in Leavenworth who expressed interest in having the art deco panels. But Hurley was told the museum has no funds to pay for the panels or the ability to transport them.
Page 2 of 2 - The county administrator said he will advise a representative of the museum that he should deal with Kaaz Construction regarding the panels.
A concrete "Leavenworth County Jail" sign that previously was removed from the building has been turned over to the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office.
"We look to preserve it," Sheriff Andy Dedeke said.
He said his office also has a cell door and other items from the old jail.
Forslund said the demolition of the old jail may be completed this week.