By Bob Steenson, firstname.lastname@example.org
There are several decisions still to be made regarding updates and renovations on the Floyd County courthouse as part of a massive $13.5 million construction project.
But the architects working with the county are urging the Board of Supervisors to at least sign off on preliminary specifications for the new law enforcement center part of the project to keep it close to its planned schedule.
Two architects from Prochaska & Associates met with the county board for two hours Thursday in a workshop meeting called to update the two supervisors who have not been part of regular day-to-day developments on the project.
Linda Tjaden, the supervisor chairwoman who has also led the project planning process for more than a year and a half, told fellow supervisors Doug Kamm and Mark Kuhn that there had been a number of courthouse changes requested by department heads as part of discussions with the architects.
Curt Field, architect and project manager with Prochaska, cautioned that there were two things that could cause the project cost to exceed the $13.5 million approved by voters in a bond referendum in May.
Making a lot of changes in the courthouse that hadn’t originally been planned for will increase costs, he said, but so will delays that prevent the project from moving along as scheduled.
“We’re behind schedule on the schematics, and we hope to avoid further delays,” Field said Thursday. “If you want to keep that budget we need to keep you on schedule.”
The project timetable had called for schematic designs to be complete and approved by the second week in August. Final designs are to be completed by the second week in December, at which time the actual construction documents would begin to be created.
Construction documents are scheduled to be done the second week in April 2019, with bidding done by the third week in May 2019 and construction taking place from June 2019 through the end of October 2020.
Field suggested that the supervisors agree with the plan so far for the new law enforcement center addition that will be built west of and connected to the courthouse. That’s all new construction and that would allow Prochaska architect Jim Classe, who has been involved along with Field in the project, to begin work on the exterior designs.
No official decisions are made at a workshop meeting, so the supervisors will discuss whether to approve the LEC part of the plan at their regular meeting at 9 a.m. next Tuesday, Sept. 11.
The LEC will include a 32-bed jail, the Sheriff’s Office, the county dispatchers center and space for the county Emergency Management Agency to have a training and multipurpose area that would also be used as an emergency operations center in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency.
An atrium and lobby will connect the LEC to the courthouse and will contain a new public elevator and a detainee elevator, as well as handicapped-accessible public restrooms for each of the five floors of the courthouse.
County Auditor Gloria Carr, whose duties include managing the physical structure of the courthouse, said most of the decisions yet to be made involve issues on the courthouse side of the project.
Several of the county departments are planning on relocating within the courthouse once the top floor no longer has the jail and the Sheriff’s Office on it. In addition, new entrances and corridors will need to be built to connect the new atrium with the floors of the existing courthouse.
Supervisor Tjaden said, “I have been reiterating at every meeting that we need to stay within the budget. If we recognize a true need that needs an adjustment, we need to find other areas to cut.”
Two new issues that have come up are the potential to move the Department of Human Services into the courthouse from its location now on south Main Street, and a request by the Clerk of Court’s office for an additional courtroom with space for six or 12 jurors to meet the high demand for court time in Floyd County.
Field said he would like the supervisors to come up with the number of square feet that will be changed in the courthouse so the budget can reflect that.
“Then if you want to spend a little more in one area you’ll have to spend a little less in another area,” he said.
The main parts of the courthouse update are the new elevators and restrooms in the atrium, as well as all new windows in the courthouse and a new heating and air conditioning system that would be linked with the LEC to replace the more than 50 room air conditioners that currently dot the exterior of the courthouse.
Another major change will be the creation of a new supervisors board room on the ground floor to replace the small board room currently on the second floor.
The current board room has space for about a dozen people including the supervisors and Carr. The plans for the new board room would seat at least 45 members of the public and include provisions for audio and video equipment.
As they were discussing size options for the board room, both Kamm and Kuhn said they want it to be big enough for those times when a meeting attracts a crowd.
The group also spent a considerable amount of the time talking about parking for the LEC and the courthouse. Current plans are for parking spaces to be built in south and west of part of the LEC and possibly diagonal or back-in diagonal parking along Court Street to the north of the LEC and courthouse.