A Prince William County citizens' committee has recommended that a new 1,150-bed jail be built on a 62-acre site in Independent Hill, authorities said last week.
The recommendation from the Prince William County-Manassas Jail Expansion Committee is expected to be submitted formally to the Board of County Supervisors within the next month, said committee Chairman Bob Harvey.
The board, which will make the final decision, is expected to consider the matter late this year or early next year, said Larry Hughes, Prince William's deputy county executive.
"There is still some information that the citizens committee is gathering," Hughes said. "The board has some questions they want answered involving cost factors and they probably intend to communicate those to the committee in the not too distant future."
The committee chose the Independent Hill site out of three areas that had been under consideration. Originally, 34 sites had been proposed, but the field was narrowed several times after investigations by the committee and a consultant.
Besides the Phelps/Devall Independent Hill site, on Dumfries Road between the county landfill and the juvenile detention home, the other sites include a 140-acre parcel on Wellington Road next to the Wellingford Industrial Park and a 73-acre site on Davis Ford Road at Hoadly Road.
Harvey said the committee chose the Phelps/Devall site as its first choice and the Wellingford property second after considering several criteria, such as accessibility to the Potomac Mills area and Manassas, the two major population centers of the county. A county report shows that acquisition factors, land use and zoning considerations, natural features, utilities and construction issues were also considered.
Harvey said the selection and ranking is still a preliminary phase of the selection. The county will conduct more investigations and hold public hearings before a final site is chosen.
Several members of the citizens committee, comprised of appointees from the county and the city of Manassas, are scheduled to tour the site Sept. 23, Harvey said.
The selection may be brought up for consideration at the committee's meeting Sept. 26, he said.
Harvey said further investigation into the Independent Hill site is needed because of the possibility that the land is contaminated. The property once housed an auto salvage yard and one of the property owners told the committee last month that environmental surveys showed "some minor surface contamination from battery acid and motor oil," Harvey said. The need for an extensive cleanup would likely disqualify the site from consideration, authorities said.
"My information is that everybody is concerned that we be absolutely sure the land is not contaminated to the point that it would be detrimental to staff or inmates," said Prince William County-Manassas regional jail superintendent Richard Kiekbusch. He said additional analysis of the site will be completed before a jail location is chosen.
County Supervisor Terrence Spellane (I-Coles) said he opposes the Independent Hill site. He said that because it was a former junkyard, an extensive cleanup might be necessary. "From a land-use point of view, a high-rise for that area was never intended on the comprehensive plan," Spellane said. He said it is likely that the jail would be several stories high.
Construction of the jail is slated for the 1993-94 fiscal year, Hughes said.