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Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 9:20am

Private Solution Proposed For Brunswick Jail

A pair of developers say, they have a potential solution to Brunswick's stalemate between supporters and opponents of county jail expansion.

The jail expansion has been controversial for years because residents and city officials oppose putting it downtown.

They say, it's bad for downtown revitilization.

But county officials want it there, citing safety and cost.

Now developers including Ben Slade III propose building the jail themselves, out of downtown, and leasing it for county purchase.

"I have a long-time interest in downtown," says Slade. "I was CEO of a bank that was headquartered in downtown Brunswick. I just felt the facility would be land-locked and it would be a bad business decision."

Some county officials are skeptical. Others want more information, including the cost.

"There's no question in my mind that we can deliver a modern facility that will be cost-effective to construct and cost-effective to operate," says Slade.

Cost estimates for all potential solutions vary widely and that's the case with this idea as well.

A report in the Georgia Times-Union quoted a price of at least $36 million.

Slade was hesitant about naming a price before talking with county officials, but told GPB that it could be less than $30 million.

Meanwhile, opponents are attempting to derail county plans in court.