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A vacant cell block at York County Prison would be a suitable place to relocate a magisterial district judge office, according to a feasibility report prepared by the county's engineering firm.

The estimated cost to retrofit unused space in the female wing of the prison would be $2.1 million, and the new office could be up and running by September 2020 if the York County Board of Commissioners approves the plan, said John Klinedinst, an engineer with C.S. Davidson Inc.

"We're still spending money up front, but we're not going to have rent costs or purchase costs for the next x-amount of years," said York County Commissioner Doug Hoke at the York County Prison Board meeting Wednesday, Sept. 11.

District Judge Barry Bloss Jr.'s office, which would be moved to the prison under this proposal, is one of several county departments housed in the Pleasant Acres annex building in Springettsbury Township.

The county sold the annex in 2018 to Premier Healthcare Management, along with the nursing home, and has until the end of 2020 to move its offices to new homes.

The district judge office would be 7,050 square feet, putting the estimated construction costs at $294 per square foot.

"We did look at the other models for district offices, and we're in the ballpark," Klinedinst said, referring to the proposed size of the space.

The $2.1 million estimate includes a 25% contingency, Klinedinst said, so the total cost could decrease.

Advantages of rehabilitating unused space at the prison include existing 24-hour security, shared utility costs, minimal site work and a secure connection to the prison for defendants already housed there.

In order to ensure a delineation between the prison and the district judge office, Klinedinst said the judge's office could be painted a different color on the outside, and the entrance would be clearly marked to distinguish the judge's office from the correctional facility.

Plans are already in the works to rehabilitate another vacant space at the prison for the coroner's office and a new morgue.

The prison board didn't vote Wednesday on whether to recommend the plan for approval, but after board members have had time to review the feasibility report, the board could vote on the proposal at its Oct. 9 meeting, Hoke said.

Once approved by the prison board, the plan would go before the county commissioners for approval.

More: York County Prison could be new home for Springetts district judge office

More: Work to begin soon on new York County Coroner's office

More: York County considers $2.2M plan to build new morgue at prison

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