Don't count out a downtown location for a new Smith County Jail, just yet. Today, Smith County Commissioners formed a new site selection committee. The committee is largely in response to proponents of a downtown site for the facility. Last week, commissioners seemed resigned to the fact that a location away from downtown would be needed. The court is now calling upon this committee, consisting of a Tyler Chamber of Commerce leader, the sheriff, a court member, a realtor and two others, to go on a site hunt and report back.
"I think that's going to go a long way to bringing everybody around to a clear understanding on both sides of the fence, those that would like to keep the jail facility downtown and those that might want to move it outside. Because as I stated today, I don't think the court has any objection to putting it downtown," says County Judge Becky Dempsey. "The only reason we were looking at a site , outside of downtown is due to the fact that we need so much acreage."
One of three construction companies being considered to win the project, recommended today, the future jail site be no smaller than 60 acres. Judge Dempsey says the court is open to any site the new committee may be able to come up with, as long as it meets all requirements that will be needed to accommodate the new jail.