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Former Al Price facility may not be empty much longer

BEAUMONT — County Judge Jeff Branick said by the number of phone calls he’s been receiving he’s cautiously optimistic the currently vacant Al Price State Juvenile Correctional Facility will soon be occupied.

The Jefferson County Commissioners Court approved a request for proposals for the development of the former Texas Youth Commission property on Highway 69 in Beaumont outside of Nederland at their regular meeting on Monday afternoon. It ceased being a TYC facility in 2011.

The board cited the agency’s budget reduction of $116.9 million for the next biennium, along with a significantly reduced youth population as key factors in the decision to close the facilities.

Branick said a charter school from Dallas, Evolution Academy, was leasing the facility a few years ago but the school never paid for the property’s utilities and the agreement was canceled.

Now there are four to five groups interested in the property, all of them substance abuse treatment rehabilitation facilities.

Two interested parties — CCA, or CoreCivic, and Gulf Coast Healthcare of Port Arthur— addressed the Jefferson County Commissioners Court at a workshop on Dec. 12 and will submit bids.

Branick said, however, the interested parties must first relieve the county of the burden of paying the utilities. Rental of the facility could serve as a source of revenue for the county.

There’s a 30-day window to submit proposals. A committee will then be formed to review the proposals and rank them before making suggestions to the commissioners court for final approval.

Another factor is deferred maintenance on the facility. Branick said the HVAC, lights and alarms must be repaired and it will require an investment up front.

The county, however, will not assist the bidders with any upfront costs.

In other county business, a contract will be filed and executed for the management of Ford Park Entertainment Complex in Beaumont. The contract is with Spectra Venue Management.

The commissioners court voted to end their 15-year relationship with SMG, a management company, and instead go with Spectra Venue Management at their Oct. 3, 2016 meeting.

Some of the commissioners said the park was costing the county $2 million a year in subsidies and the facility was basically run down for the reason to make the change.

David Ball: 409-721-2427