Build new jail on old DOT land


I, along with many taxpaying citizens of Brookings, have been paying close attention to the jail situation. In my opinion, is there a need for additional jail space in our ever growing community?  

Yes, I believe so. With that in mind, I also understand the growing concern of adding on a large new building into the historic district of our wonderful city. Here’s a suggestion to solve both problems.

The City of Brookings owns many acres of land where the old Department of Transportation once was. Brookings purchased the land several years ago from the State of South Dakota, and also relocated the DOT one mile north in a new facility.

The City of Brookings contracted with a business/agency that specialize in finding and locating businesses to build retail stores in certain areas. If memory serves, I believe the original contract was for five years. This organization did not complete its mission during that time frame, and has now been given 2 extensions in hopes of finding new businesses.  

This search is not working. Stores are closing nationwide. Gosh, too bad they couldn’t find businesses to fill the empty and vacant stores downtown. Brick and mortar stores are not the direction the country is going. I would love for the Marketplace to be successful, but six-plus years, nothing yet.  Great idea, but sadly, it does not seem as if it’s going to happen.

With the above in mind, why not use the already paid for land, and build a new city, county, state, federal and juvenile holding facility on that land?  State of the art as far as security, monitoring, safety – jointly manned by many different law enforcement agencies. This idea is extremely safe and secure. Not in a residential area, and also close to the interstate for out of city relocating inmates. Plus future room to grow when needed.

As far as security transporting the inmates to the courthouse, remove the current jail facility, and build a secure garage large enough to park one bus used in transporting the inmates. Open the secure garage door, pull in, close the door, and walk them into the courthouse. With the remaining square footage by removing the existing facility, turn that into much needed parking for the courthouse. Nationwide, many law enforcement agencies transport inmates from a secure off-site location to the courthouse daily.

Let’s logically tackle this problem, and use the empty land for a new jail facility, and maintain our beautiful historical district. Problems solved – everybody’s happy.

Joe Gilpin