Council considers 2nd jail for York County

County Council urged to add a jail, courtrooms to ‘where the population is’

adouglas@heraldonline.comJanuary 9, 2013 

— York County could build a new justice center in Rock Hill or Fort Mill if the County Council moves forward with suggestions that the eastern part of the county needs its own jail and courtrooms.

A second justice center should be a priority when the council decides to spend money, said council Chairman Britt Blackwell during Wednesday night’s budget talks.

Sheriff’s deputies are losing significant patrol time when they drive inmates from Fort Mill and Tega Cay to the Moss Justice Center in York, said Sheriff Bruce Bryant.

Three out of five 911 calls for deputies come from the eastern part of the county, Bryant said.

“That’s where the population is, and it’s the furthest thing from Moss Justice,” Bryant said.

The cost for a new justice center is undetermined. But without knowing how much a new justice center would cost, it’s hard to commit right away, said council member Michael Johnson, who represents Fort Mill and Tega Cay.

Other capital projects proposed during the council’s two-day budget workshop included new or improved recreational parks, building an agri-tourism center and constructing a new county administrative building.

“Parks and access to recreational areas are important,” Johnson said. “But if you ask me to prioritize it, I think it’s more important that a sheriff’s deputy is patrolling and not spending an hour and a half driving back and forth from Carowinds to Moss Justice Center.

County Manager Jim Baker, who is leaving his post next week for a job in Chesapeake, Va., advised the council to start planning for a new justice center while expanding the Moss Justice Center.

More courtrooms and offices are needed at Moss to avoid a large backlog of cases and to avoid a public safety problem, said Solicitor Kevin Brackett to the council Tuesday.

The cost of adding more courtrooms and office space at the Moss Justice Center is undetermined.

York County is in “very good financial shape,” Baker said, and has enough money to complete big projects without borrowing anything.

Council members should avoid thinking short-term, he said, even though there are pressures to push projects through and council members might worry about facing re-election every two years.

“Very honestly,” Baker said. “If you think just about what we’re going to build in the next two years, we’re going to make some bad decisions.”

Crowders Creek park

Councilman Bruce Henderson voiced support Wednesday for building a 50-acre park at Crowders Creek in Clover. The park could cost up to $11.2 million, according to the county’s estimates.

Henderson said the park could be built for much less. A park at Crowder’s Creek would include a playground, soccer, baseball and softball fields.

The project could be paid for through county hospitality tax money, he said, and pump money back into the hospitality tax account because it would attract visitors from North Carolina.

“I guess I’m dreaming big a little bit,” Henderson said. “But you could almost get to the point where it’s self-sustaining after two or three years.”

The council did not vote on any of the suggested projects or budget discussions during its two-day workshop this week.

Anna Douglas 803-329-4068

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