County approves contract for design of CCSO evidence, storage facility

County Commissioners approved a $128,500 contract to Nelson Architects for the design of the planned storage and evidence facility at the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office.

The commission has allocated $1.5 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds toward the new metal outbuilding that will be used for evidence and cold storage.

The building would be constructed on the southwest corner of the sheriff’s office property at 3800 Ulm N. Frontage Road.

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The county solicited requests for statement of qualifications for architectural/engineering services for the project and only received the response from Nelson Architects.

In November, County Commissioners met with Undersheriff Scott Van Dyken and Les Payne, county public works director, to discuss the project.

Commissioner Joe Briggs said at the time that the commission was unaware of the project other than a recent memo from staff indicating that the project would likely cost more than the earlier $1.5 million estimate.

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Payne said that he thought the commission had been aware, since the former public works director and later special project manager, Brian Clifton, had worked on the project years ago.

Briggs said they’d seen it on a wish list years ago but were unaware it was an active project now.

Staff is looking at options for constructing a new, free-standing evidence processing and storage facility on the grounds of the sheriff’s office/jail facility.

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Payne said in November that estimate was $149,500 for architectural and engineering fees and $1,755,000 for construction costs, for a total of $1,904,500.

In the documents for the Feb. 13 commission meeting, the construction estimate was $1,359,000 for a total estimated project cost of $1,497,500.

Van Dyken said they’re running out of room for evidence and records storage.

He said they have “boxes and boxes of records” and evidence as large as couches and beds from homicides, as well RVs.

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Van Dyken told commissioners that the sheriff’s office had turned their old evidence room into the morgue, which has been helpful, and that space didn’t have enough room for processing evidence in many cases.

With limited space to process large evidence, Van Dyken said they recently had a case of two deceased persons in a camper in Sun Prairie and deputies had to process the camper outside in subzero temperatures.

The sheriff’s office is “busting at the seams,” Van Dyken said.

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He said they’re storing records upstairs at the sheriff’s office, but leaks are causing damage.

“We need a secure spot for all of this,” Van Dyken said.

They also need space to park their search and rescue jet boat that was purchased with a grant, and a new $700,000 command vehicle that is coming to the county, also funded by a grant, Van Dyken and Payne told commissioners in November.

Briggs said that when Van Dyken submitted the grant there was no mention of storing the command vehicle and that it would be a regional asset and not the county’s responsibility.

Van Dyken said it would be owned by the sheriff’s office to maintain command and control and users would require specialized training.

Payne said in some instances, they’ve had to use the county’s weed and mosquito facility to process evidence, which displaces other county operations.

If the new facility is constructed, evidence storage and processing would be moved to that space and the current space, which is shared between evidence and maintenance, would become a purely maintenance facility.

Van Dyken said that once evidence is processed, some can be returned, some may not need to be stored indoors, but much of it has to be held for years, depending on the type of case and associated retention laws.

Commissioners also approved a $7,950 contract to Big Sky Civil Engineering for the design phase of a project to remove all underground fuel lines and fuel holding tanks on the sheriff’s office site and install a water holding tank for the sally port.

Big Sky was involved with the project many years ago and still have the documentation on hand, the public works department believes its the best firm for the project.

The county allocated $60,000 in ARPA funds for the project.