HUNTSVILLE — Scott County Commission voted Monday to move forward with a request for proposals from economic suitors who might be interested in leasing or acquiring the old county jail here.
The century-old jail, which was vacated by the county in 2008, after a new justice center complex was completed on Scott High Drive, has fallen into a state of disrepair, prompting concerns from commissioners that the facility be put to use to avoid continued deterioration.
According to a resolution adopted by County Commission Monday, the county will seek to sell or lease the jail “to an individual or organization that will use the facility for sustainable economic activity while preserving the historical aspects of the facility.” Any agreement would require that the jail’s historic aspects be preserved. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The sandstone building is three stories tall, consisting of 3,600 sq. ft. Monday’s vote passed by a 10-3 vote, with 6th District Commissioner Robin Newman absent and dissenting votes cast by 2nd District Commissioner June Jeffers, 3rd District Commissioner Sheila Buttram and 5th District Commissioner Robyn McBroom.
The vote came with relatively little discussion, though Buttram opined that the facility should not be sold, and that the only option should be for the county to lease it.
Fourth District Commissioner Rick Russ, who chairs County Commission’s Building & Grounds Committee and has spearheaded the effort to seek proposals for the jail, said that he has spoken to several people who have appeared “very interested” in the jail.
The Commission's vote to move forward came despite a word of warning from Speedy Blevins, a local citizen who is a frequent commentator at Commission meetings. Speaking prior to discussion on the jail proposition Monday, Blevins said that if commissioners vote to "get rid of the jail, I don't know how many of you are going to run again but you won't be reelected."