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Juvenile center work won't start this year

County officials had hoped crews would break ground on the new Juvenile Service Center this month.

But a series of delays has pushed the construction date to January, said Deputy County Administrator Dave Kanner.

The &

36;16.5 million center, at 10th Street between King and Laurel streets downtown, will replace the aging county juvenile detention center at South Gateway Shopping Center.

We were waiting on an environmental assessment, Kanner said. The federal government dragged its heels, to say the least. We basically had to shut the project down.

County officials anticipated that the study ' necessary to ensure the project wouldn't harm the environment ' would be complete by October 2001.

But Kanner said the results, which showed no negative impact, didn't come back until February.

Also delaying the project was a &

36;664,000 bill from the city of Medford for system development charges, the fees developers pay. The county had budgeted &

36;226,000.

The fees are calculated based on the amount of traffic a development is expected to generate. The number was higher than the county expected because the city, using a standard formula, calculated that the service center would generate 3,000 vehicle trips per day.

The county conducted a &

36;12,500 traffic study to prove the center would generate only about 180 trips daily. The city accepted the study's findings and new SDC charges are being computed, said Cory Crebbin, city director of public works.

Bids for the project are expected to go out in November, said Kanner. Work will most likely begin in January but could be delayed by wet weather.

The property where the center will be built sits on a shallow water table, Kanner added.You won't want do go out and work in a sea of mud, Kanner said.

After ground breaks, Kanner estimates it will take 18 months before the center is complete and open for business.

The two-story, 50,405-square-foot structure will include a courtroom and hearing room, classroom space, intake area and space for the probation and assessment department.

The facility, which will employ 64 people, also will feature 20 detention beds, a recreation area, a gymnasium and a shelter area for kids who haven't broken the law but need housing.

Reach reporter Jill Briskey at 776-4485, or e-mail