County closer to securing parking lot for future jail
Grayson County moved one step closer Tuesday to owning the parking lot that just east of the Grayson County Jail on Crockett Street. Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said securing the property now will make things easier when the county needs to expand the current jail.
In a recent email, Fr. Wesley Evans of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church said the sale of the property is good for the church too.
“We're going to develop our land just north of us (gravel area next to the fire department) into a larger parking lot which will be much safer for the elderly and young mothers crossing the street,” Evans said.
As for the timing of the sale, Evans email said “With Covid19 and our livestream services it's the perfect window of opportunity to build a new lot with minimal disruption.”
He said it might not be obvious to most folks, but the parking lot to the south of of St. Stephens does not actually belong to that church.
“It belongs to First Baptist,” Evans said of the lot. That means St. Stephens only parking lot is the one they are selling.
“A new lot with a more direct walk across only one street would greatly minimize the risk of crossing, particularly as Sherman grows!,” Evans said.
The action taken Tuesday allowed the county to transfer the $115,000, that the county is paying for the lot to the title company. The sale of the property was included in this year’s budget.
“It’s a great deal for the county. It is going to save us tens of millions of dollars down the road,” Magers said on Tuesday of the purchase.
The county’s last expansion project for the jail started in 2011 and was completed in 2012. The $4.9 million project included a 96-bed addition as well as some remodeling of the old jail. In interviews at that time, commissioners said the money to pay for the project came from profits from the expansion of State Highway 289 and fund balance.
The decision to expand the jail back in 2011 came after more than a year’s worth of public meetings and plans for everything from a privately run jail to the expansion that eventually happened. At one point, the county considered moving the jail out of downtown.
Magers, who was the mayor of the city of Sherman then, stressed the need to keep the jail downtown on the day the new jail opened saying, “The county is a part of the fabric of our downtown and we want to keep it down here for as long as we possibly can. It is an economic driver for the community.”