Demolition of former Miami County jail starts Monday

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Jul. 23—PERU — Crews on Monday are set to begin the demolition of the downtown building that once housed the Miami County Health Department and jail.

Eric Woodmansee, an engineer at AME Consulting, which the county contracted with to oversee the demo, told the Peru Board of Works this week the project would take about four weeks.

To prepare for the demo, the board approved the closure starting Monday of East 5th Street from Court Street to Wabash Street, and Wabash Street from 5th Street to the entrance of Miami County Annex parking lot.

Woodmansee said the contractor wanted to wait to begin the demolition until the Peru Circus City Festival ends Sunday to avoid any problems with traffic and other events happening during the festival.

Kreager Group, based out of Fort Wayne, won the bid to tear down the north end of the county annex building located along the courthouse square at the corner of Court and Fifth streets. The project is funded by money awarded to the county through the American Rescue Plan.

That building section was constructed in 1983 to serve as the county jail, which moved to its current location in 2008. It most recently housed the health department and morgue, which moved last year to its new location at 28 S. Wabash St.

The move came after the building had become dilapidated and started to develop major structural issues, such as a leaky roof, which officials said would cost more to fix than it would to demolish. Now, that section will be turned into a gravel parking lot.

Commissioner Alan Hunt said during a meeting in April that with the infusion of federal ARP dollars, it made sense to move forward with the demolition.

"We felt like we had these funds available, so it's time to take it down," he said. "Hopefully, at some point, we can put something else there, but it will be a parking lot for now."

Kreager Group won the project with a $290,000 bid, which was around $220,000 less than the next lowest bid.

Woodmansee said in April the bid was so low that officials worried about the work the company would do. However, after investigating Kreager Group, they found it to be a reliable company with experience on similar demolition projects in Indiana.

Woodmansee said the way the contract is written, there shouldn't be many change orders or extra expenses passed on to the county.

"Per the contract, they are supposed to give us whatever it takes to make that project happen and give us a final gravel surface we can park on," he said.

Woodmansee told the Board of Works this week that the contractor is responsible for repairing any damage it may cause to the streets or surrounding properties, and a parameter fence will be put up during the demo.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.