It would be surprising if a new City Council committee beginning its work today did not conclude that moving the county jail out of downtown is an excellent idea.
Council President Ron Salem already has reached that conclusion and he established the new committee to examine the particulars. Sheriff T.K. Waters also is on record in favor of moving.
According to the Jax Daily Record, the police headquarters building also could be slated for a move.
The jail is only about 30 years old but the police headquarters building has been in use 50 years.
Age and size are two issues, but the question of whether having them downtown impedes redevelopment is as important.
Just a few decades ago Fairfield was a declining residential area bounded by Hogan’s Creek, the expressway and the river. Today virtually that entire area has been taken over by the sports complex and other public amenities, while the old city hall and courthouse have been replaced by newer facilities off the riverfront.
The police and jail buildings are at the western edge of the growing complex.
At one time it was considered necessary for the jail to be near the courthouse because of the need to shuttle prisoners back and forth. That is no longer the case.
Also, all police functions no longer need to be housed in the same structure. According to the Daily Record, Waters already is seeking space in a building on Riverside Avenue for some administrative offices.
The location of the two buildings on Liberty Street between Adams and Bay streets could become the site of a new convention center, settling a longstanding issue.
Of course, the big question is where the money for all these grand plans will be found. The city already has many millions sunk in such dubious ventures as replacing septic tanks and building a walking trail through some of the most crime-ridden sections of the city.
Better priorities are needed.