Fayette County's future prison

Mark Hofmann | Herald-Standard

The deed to the Army Reserve Center in Uniontown was given to the Fayette County commissioners in 2018 by the federal government as the area will be site for the future county prison.

The Fayette County commissioners approved the contract for the design and construction of the new county prison.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting, the commissioners unanimously voted to approve the contract with L.R. Kimball Architecture and Engineering of Ebensburg.

Last year, the commissioners received the deed for the former U.S. Army Reserve Center on Route 21 in Uniontown at no cost, touting plans to make the site the new location of the Fayette County Prison. The current prison in Uniontown was constructed 131 years ago.

“I was really pleased with the effort of that negotiation,” said Commissioner Vincent Vicites.

Vicites said he was told by the firm that their head architect would charge the county 5% of the total project cost, and the firm kept its word.

“On average, most architectural firm contracts are set in the 7% range,” Vicites said. “So we were able to get a significantly lower total project cost, which can save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Officials said they do not yet have an estimate of the total project cost.

Vicites said the commissioners chose a firm that has built 70 prisons and has been involved with 150 prison construction projects across the county.

Commissioner David Lohr added that the head architect has been watching Fayette’s prison project for the past 20 years and is excited to be a part of it.

“I think that had a lot to do with it, too,” Lohr said. “He wants to see this done, too.”

Following the meeting, attorney Tim Witt said one final home must be purchased to make way for the prison. He said an agreement-of-sale contract has been sent to the homeowner, and may be approved as soon as next month’s meeting.

In other business, the commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the county’s comprehensive plan, which is a document that acts as a guide for growth and development across the county.

Last month, the commissioners held the final public hearing for the plan, which has been in the works since 2017. Public input on the plan included concerns about broadband accessibility, blight and infrastructure.

Now that the plan has been adopted, Vicites said the commissioners can begin updating zoning ordinances and digitizing the county zoning maps. He said current maps are on paper sheets that number in the thousands.

In other business, the commissioners unanimously voted to:

n Approve the Jacobs Creek Park Master Site Development Plan and Trail Feasibility Study.

n Approve the grant application to P-Corp (CCAP Insurance) in the amount of $15,412 for improvements and/or repair of the accessible entrance to the Fayette County Courthouse.

n Approve the Fayette County Bar Association’s request to place a bulletin board on the second floor of the courthouse as a means to provide notice to local attorneys regarding legal education courses, events, rules of court and court news. The bar association will pay for the costs of the board.

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