An "" with the company constructing the was held at Santee on Thursday. Numerous city leaders and curious residents came to see renderings of the plans and ask about the project that is underway.
The jail expansion is proceeding after overcoming filed by the city of Santee and a developer whose property sits near the site of the project. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department operates , on 15.98 acres of county-owned land in the city of Santee.
According to Balfour Betty Construction, early site work on the $221 million project started recently and will continue for six months. Phase One includes cnstruction 17 of a total 28 buildings, taking 18 months, followed by 90 days of "decomissioning," otherwise known as demolition of the old facility. Phase Two finishes the project over the following 15 months.
The expansion, nearly tripling the size of the facility to 45 acres, is due to be completed in early 2016. The inmates will be housed on-site during construction.
The aging facility, with many temporary structures, was originally intended to house juvenile girls in 1965 and now acts as the facility for women arrested in San Diego County. County authorities have sought to upgrade the facility following numerous about overcrowded conditions. General funds from the county and $100 million from a state prison funding bill known as AB 900 will cover its costs.
Vice-Mayor , a vocal critic of the expansion, attended the open house and said what he saw was an improvement on the original plans.
"I like that you've made it look better, but it's still a ," McNelis said to a Balfour Betty representative.
Inmates are currently released throughout the day at Las Colinas, and according to the Sheriff's Department that schedule is set to continue at the expanded facility, but the location will be changing. Right now, inmates are released onto Cottonwood Avenue which feeds into Mission Gorge Road, but after the expansion they will be released onto Riverview Parkway which feeds into Magnolia Avenue, just north of the . According to Balfour Betty, a well lit bus stop will be constructed just south of the entrnace on Magnolia Avenue.
Balfour Betty Construction also held a meeting with the Home Owners Association of the Mobile Home Community on Thursday, wich will sit across the street, 700 feet from the expanded dentention center. Some residents of the park and other nearby residents expressed concerns about releasing the inmates into their neighborhood.
Construction will cause some lane closures on Magnolia Avenue across from New Frontier Mobile Park, but Balfour Betty Construction confirmed that Magnolia will remain open throughout construction. New sidewalks and pedestrian amenities will be installed in the area.
It was hoped that Riverview Parkway, which currently runs behind Trolley Square, would connect with Magnolia Avenue, providing quicker access to the shopping center. But, while the jail access road perpendicular to Magnolia will be named Riverview Parkway (see maps in media box), it will dead end, and will not connect to the existing Riverview Parkway, at least not now.
is scheduled to move into the complex and it is possible they could develop Riverview Parkway as part of development of sports fields in the area.
When asked what the area will look like while driving past it on Magnolia Avenue, Balfour Betty described a 15 foot climb-proof mesh tan wall without razorwire, native trees and vegetation, so that it would be hard to tell that your driving past a detention center. The project is also hoping to attain LEED Gold certification.
It was mentioned that the county is considering development opportunities along Magnolia Avenue.
Do you have any questions you'd like answered about the Las Colinas expansion in Santee? Leave a comment or send them to Steven.Bartholow@patch.com and we'll get your questions answered.