Ada County is buying and trading some real estate with dairy processor Darigold with the hopes of expanding the Ada County Jail.
Last week, the Ada County Commissioners voted unanimously to spend roughly $1 million in value on acquiring two parcels of land at 519 and 497 N Allumbaugh Street to make room for a new jail building. The county will be purchasing portions of both parcels from Darigold for $858,000, trading a $91,000 parcel the county owns at 419 N Allumbaugh with the company and also agreeing to contribute nearly $200,000 to the cost of building a retaining wall between the company property and the jail.
These open parcels are located kitty-corner from the Ada County Jail, which is on Barrister Drive, and would make way for the county to add more jail bed space and enlarge other facilities to accommodate population growth. This is the first step toward a jail expansion, but the Ada County Commissioners have not announced any plans to put a bond paying for the project to the voters.
“Everyone is eager to get it closed,” Sheriff Matt Clifford told the Ada County Commissioners about the sale. “We hope to do it as quickly as possible.”
Long-running discussion on jail expansion
No matter your party, the vast majority of politicians in Ada County agree the jail needs to expand to accommodate the influx of new people to the Treasure Valley in recent years.
The question is how to pay for it. Under a Democratic majority in 2020, Commissioner Kendra Kenyon and former Commissioner Diana Lachiondo voted to use a bonding process to borrow funds to pay for the project without putting the project to a vote through a bond. This was a similar move used to pay for the new coroners’ facility currently under construction.
But, after Lachiondo lost her seat to Republican Commissioner Ryan Davidson, he and newly elected Republican Commissioner Rod Beck opted to scrap this plan. They opened a construction fund to start saving for the project in 2021, but so far have been mum on exactly how they intend to pay for it. It’s unknown if, or when, it will go to a bond.