Los Angeles County officials took steps Tuesday to speed up a $48-million plan to rebuild and modernize one of the county's probation camps for young offenders.
Camp Kilpatrick, an aging 125-bed facility for juvenile offenders in Malibu, is slated to be torn down and reconstructed under a new design that probation officials said would allow them to implement a new "small group treatment" model.
"I think when it's finished, Los Angeles will have a state-of-the-art facility, and people will be coming from across the nation to see how to do it right," said probation department Assistant Chief Don Meyer, who oversees the county's 13 probation camps and three juvenile halls.
In the new facility, the young inmates will be housed in groups of 12 and will remain in those groups throughout the day as they go through classes, meals, and exercise and therapy sessions. Currently, most of the juvenile facilities house the young inmates in 80- to 120-bed dormitories.
The county's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a measure that could speed the project as much as 15 months by allowing the design and construction contract to be awarded to a single firm. That would allow the firm to begin demolition and construction while some portions of the design were being finalized.
The move to speed the process came after some of the supervisors complained last week about the long time frame for the project, which was projected to start construction in early 2016 and be completed a year later. The board voted in February 2012 to go forward with the Camp Kilpatrick work, using a $28.7-million state grant awarded in 2010.
"This should receive the 'burro-crat' award," Supervisor Gloria Molina said, in reference to the slow pace of construction. "I think it's pretty pathetic."
Probation Chief Jerry Powers said the process was partly slowed because he had agreed to engage community members, including youth advocates, in a "collaborative process" of conceptualizing the new facility, which took nearly a year.
"With something of this magnitude and this importance to L.A. County's juvenile justice system and our camp system … we're going to do it right, and it's going to be a project that will establish a pattern for the future," he said.
The board also voted Tuesday to approve several other measures that will allow the project to get started. Kerjon Lee, spokesman for the county Department of Public Works, said the bidding process for the contract to design and build the project could begin in March.