Starke Commissioners Review Jail Site Appraisals, Approve Offer

The Starke County Commissioners this week reviewed two appraisals for the land they have proposed to use as the site for the new Starke County jail facility. Commissioner Kathy Norem explained that the appraisals came back roughly a week ago, and County Attorney Martin Lucas explained that the county cannot pay more for the land than the average of the two appraisals they’ve received.

The appraisals included a total of 30 acres, but Lucas explained that 30 acres is a bit more than the county actually needed. As a result, Lucas said he ultimately ended up negotiating the prices down for a smaller amount of acreage based on the marginal acreage figure laid out in each appraisal. To that end, the first appraisal came in at $497,000, but after removing the unnecessary acreage – which brought it down to 24 acres – Lucas said the bid came out to $455,000.

The second appraisal came in at $539,000 for 30 acres, and after the reduction of acreage, Lucas explained the appraisals came to a total average of $497,000 to be offered to Mark Bailey in exchange for the land, located just west of 550 East on State Road 8.

Commissioner Kathy Norem said the county has the option of offering Bailey $500,250 for 24.5 acres for a more even number, or offer him $497,000 for 24 acres. She said the county had originally intended to spend no more than $250,000 for land acquisition, but because this parcel already has a suitable building, the additional cost of the land and the building would still be cheaper than a cheaper land purchase with all-new expensive construction.

The commissioners approved a motion to propose both offers to Bailey and allow him to choose whether to sell 24 or 24.5 acres to the county.