The computer drawings are in their very early stages, "the first pass at it," architect Steve Riley of Prochaska & Associates, Omaha, told commissioners during the commissioners' weekly meeting. "It's very preliminary ... what a jail would look like downtown, how it would exist with the courthouse," Riley said.
"Final details and designs will evolve," he said.
Fellow architect Scott Lundberg told commissioners that a color of brick other than that matching the existing courthouse "would help set off the courthouse as its own historical structure." Riley said colors of the new addition "would be in sync" with the courthouse.
Riley said that the proposed building would "be a good neighbor" to the courthouse (with its classical, powerful Grecian-Doric columns and its buff Bedford limestone), and to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed private home on the corner across the street north, (with its "Prairie Style" low horizontal lines, cantilevered overhangs and long bands of glass). Riley continued, "It won't replicate either (the courthouse or the Frank Lloyd Wright home). It would be sensitive to both, but of its own time," Riley said.
Riley said the early drawings show a jail/law enforcement center that "is not just a concrete block. It will present itself well. Our intent is to present a quality face to the public."
Even the building's mechanics would be hidden behind the design element of a second-floor "penthouse" of linear windows. Riley said.
The entire addition is no more than a two-story structure, Lundberg said.
Riley emphasized that the proposed building "won't look like a jail. It won't even say 'jail' on it. It'll say 'law enforcement center,' or 'detention center'."
It won't have bars on the windows, chain link fence topped with razor wire, prisoners in orange jumpsuits in an outside exercise yard. What the public would see on the east side would be offices and the north wall would be banks of windows and solid brick, Riley said.
Roberta Felker, who, with her husband, Dorwin, attends most commissioner meetings, told Riley and Lundberg that she would prefer that the new detention center be connected to the courthouse, as one early option offered.
Riley explained that it was the construction budget that eliminated connecting corridors between the courthouse and the jail, but that the proposed design allows for the area between the two to be enclosed as money permits in the future.
In the existing proposed design, prisoners would enter the courthouse through the existing west door or through a new door fashioned from a window opening in the courtroom located in the northwest corner of the courthouse's first floor.
Riley said that it's possible that an ornamental but secure gate can be erected between the jail and courthouse until such a time an enclosed, connecting structure can be built. He added, however, "If the budget permits and we can put an enclosed structure there, we'll do it. Either way, you won't see the prisoners. At the very least, you'll have that."
The far north end of the block can be used for 90-degree off-street parking or green space. Commission chairman Earl McNutt said he prefers green space with grass and landscaping, to help with the aesthetics of the building and yard.
Angle parking on the south side of F Street, inset from traffic lanes, would require approval from the City of McCook, Lundberg said.
Commissioners planned an afternoon work session with Riley and Lundberg to fine-tune the schematic designs presented in the morning.
If commissioners approve the finalized schematic designs, by the first part of December to stay on a project timeline, the next step is the design development phase, which defines details, materials, equipment, casework and aesthetics, and presents a "statement of probable cost."