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Use this application to submit PDF application and supporting documents. The application deadline is Friday April 26, 2019 at 4:00 pm

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Visitor Improvement Fund grants will be used for the purposes of expanding and improving facilities at any existing visitor attraction, acquiring or expanding exhibits for existing visitor attractions, constructing visitor attractions or planning or developing such expansions, improvement or construction.

Applications for the Douglas County 2019-2020 Visitor Improvement Fund Grants may be submitted beginning Monday, March 18, 2019.

The application deadline is Friday, April 26, 2019, at 4:00 p.m. 
(late filings will NOT be considered)

Please download the guidelines and application document and complete the fillable PDF application. After you have completed the application, please email your application and supporting documentation to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Faxed, mailed or hand-delivered applications will NOT be accepted.

If you have questions regarding the application please contact,

Catherine Hall
Assistant County Administrator
(402) 444-6416
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We look forward to receiving your application. Applications will be reviewed by the Visitor Promotion Council in May and recommendations will then be forwarded to the Douglas County Board of Commissioners for review and final approval. Applicants will receive notification of final award status in July.

 

The Unified Juvenile Justice Center Development Corporation (JCDC) assists the County and the Omaha-Douglas Public Building Commission in planning, developing and constructing the Justice Center project. The JCDC meets periodically to discuss the Justice Center project. These meetings are open to the public. You may view the meeting minutes below.

Meeting Agendas

May 10, 2018

June 11, 2018

July 9, 2018

August 3, 2018

September 7, 2018

October 31, 2018

December 10, 2018

March 21, 2019 

April 25, 2019  

 

Meeting Minutes

May 10, 2018

June 11, 2018

July 9, 2018

August 3, 2018

September 7, 2018

September 7, 2018 (listen to this on YouTube)

October 31, 2018

October 31, 2018 (listen to this on YouTube)

December 10, 2018

December 10, 2018 Attachment

December 10, 2018 Attachment 2

December 10, 2018 (listen to this on YouTube)

March 21, 2019

March 21, 2019 Attachment

March 21, 2019 (listen to this on YouTube)

April 25, 2019 (listen to this on YouTube)

April 25, 2019 project book pdf

 

Thank you for your interest in the Douglas County Justice Center project. This proposal is the subject of ongoing public debate. Your feedback is important to us and helps to make our project one that is responsive to the community and people we serve. If you would like to submit a question or comment about the project, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We will respond within 48 hours of receipt.

What is wrong with the current juvenile justice center?

Today, there is no juvenile justice center in Douglas County. Various components of the system are spread across multiple locations in Douglas County. As the DLR/Chinn Report identified, co-locating juvenile services in a center should be a County priority.

Why would we spend so much money to build fewer beds than the current center? Isn’t this a wasteful use of taxpayer money?

The final number of beds is still under discussion, but as the DLR/Chinn Report concluded, “Based on the forecast models and suggested ways to reduce incarceration, the recommended planning capacity for secure detention is 48 beds, with expansion capacity to 64 at some point in the future, if system changes and new alternatives are not implemented. Current population in secure detention is averaging 75-80 youth, so the recommended future capacity assumes that changes will be implemented to reduce the number of youth in secure detention.”

Shouldn’t we be trying to help the kids rather than just putting them in jail?

Absolutely. Besides moving kids through the system, providing improved services to keep them out of the system is part of our efforts.

Why is eminent domain necessary? Can’t we just build this somewhere else?

After reviewing several sites, only two allowed the County to meet the primary goal of co-locating all services. Acquiring one of the properties through eminent domain was necessary after the owner of the building refused to sell for a price that was nearly double what was paid for the property a little over five years ago. The use of eminent domain condemnation actions, always with just compensation to the landowner, is a rare last resort.

I have heard that this proposal will result in an increase to my property taxes. Is this true? How much will my property taxes go up?

The recent average assessed value of a residential property in Douglas County was $159,840. At this assessed value, the increase in property taxes would be $47.95 a year, or $3.99 per month.

Why hasn’t there been any transparency in this process? Is this just a backroom deal with business leaders in Omaha?

A review of the DLR/Chinn Report clearly shows that this discussion has been in the arena of public officials and those that have an interest in the juvenile justice system. Further, as the plan was being put together, elected officials were kept advised, participated in discussions and approved proposed actions for the project moving forward.

Will a new building really make any difference? Don’t we need to change the way we treat kids in the juvenile justice system?

By co-locating all services in one facility we are beginning to make one major change in how we treat kids. For example, children will no longer need to be shackled in order to be transported from 42nd Street to downtown Omaha for a hearing. We are making cooperation within the system easier for parents by co-locating services and attorneys in the same location as their children.

I’ve heard that there is a cheaper alternative that doesn’t require the use of eminent domain or the demolition of a historic building. Why doesn’t that alternative work?

The alternate proposal does not satisfy the vision of co-locating services and it does not fit the comprehensive long-term vision for juvenile justice reform.

Why are you using a nonprofit to lead the building of the new Justice Center?

Nonprofit, 501c3 organizations have been used for over three decades in Lincoln and Omaha to deliver projects of this nature. It allows project schedules to be compressed, saving time and money. Recently, another local political entity, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, authorized a nonprofit to lead the development of the $350 million Buffet Cancer Center. Architectural and programmatic success was realized, and the project was delivered on time and on budget by a nonprofit entity, the Cancer Center Development Corporation (“CCDC”). The CCDC assumed significant risk and managed this complex, multi-dimensional project to a successful conclusion that exceeded expectations. Over 80% of the work was competitively bid, and all expenditures were accounted for in public and audited throughout.

The Douglas County Justice Center project is an ongoing effort to right-size facilities, streamline judicial processes, and coordinate services in order to improve justice outcomes and enhance safety for all members of our community. This is also a part of an ongoing effort for the past two decades to reform Douglas County’s juvenile justice system. 

photo of the 3rd Douglas County Courthouse which is still in use today. Please click on photo for a larger more detailed image.
Photo courtesy of Douglas County Historical Society.

The existing Hall of Justice was built in 1912. As the city has grown and evolved, judicial functions have expanded beyond the building's capacity and design. Today, Douglas County's justice-related services — including judges, attorneys, public defenders, courts, juvenile probation, juvenile assessment, and youth detention center — are spread across five buildings in downtown and midtown.

Over the last 25 years, Douglas County has been working to develop a plan to address this shortfall. The project's goal is to establish our community as a leader in justice practices that protect youth and families, empower public servants and nonprofit partners, strengthen security, and reduce expensive inefficiencies.

The project team has recommended building a new facility to house juvenile justice services along with County Attorney and Public Defender's offices, as well as a new youth center designed to minimize trauma and the time juveniles spend in detention. These buildings would be connected to each other, as well as the City-County Building and County Courthouse, by a secure skywalk. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

The Douglas County Clerk maintains a record of all documents, project proposals, and information submitted to the Douglas County Board of Commissioners. To see all of the Justice Center-related items, click here 

Click here for frequently-asked questions about this project. 

If you'd like to submit a question or comment about this project, click here

 


A'Jamal ByndonA’Jamal Byndon, a longtime advocate of social justice, poverty reduction and serving those in need in the Omaha area, starts with Douglas County on Feb. 26, 2018 as the county’s first Disproportionate Minority Contact and Compliance Coordinator.

Byndon, who most recently worked for PromiseShip (formerly known as Nebraska Families Collaborative) as its Diversity and Community Initiatives Coordinator, has more than 34 years of experience in social services and improving race relations in the community. He was one of seven founding members of Omaha Table Talk, which fostered a better understanding of racial issues and experiences of many in Omaha.

“He has been dedicated to fairness in the juvenile justice system for a long time,” said Douglas County Commissioner Chris Rodgers. “I'm glad to have him on our team to help solve this issue. He brings a fearlessness and a tact to this that I respect and I look forward to working with him.”

In this new role for Douglas County, Byndon will collect and analyze data to assist in identifying factors that contribute to Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC). He will also work with a variety of juvenile justice stakeholders and community members to guide and inform efforts leading to prevention and intervention strategies. Byndon will work with both law enforcement and judges to ensure proportional treatment for juveniles in the system.

“I’ve always wanted to work for the government as a change agent,” Byndon said. “My goal is to work with a coalition of different people to reduce the disproportionality of juveniles in the criminal justice system. We should not just throw the books at our kids. Many of these kids need mentoring, role models and institutions that support their families. We need to have some tough love and discipline, teach parenting skills to our families and get institutions and organizations to provide quality services to those in need.”

Fighting for social justice is a part of Byndon’s family history. His late mother, Lerlean N. Johnson, was one of seven women who sued Omaha Public Schools over segregation in the early 1970s and won. Byndon also served two years in the Peace Corps in the Republic of Botswana in southern Africa.

“Social justice is in my DNA,” Byndon said. “My whole career has been about serving others and I’m looking forward to this next chapter.”