Justice facility options pondered
Officials review ways to build courthouse based on election
Steamboat Springs — A new justice facility for Routt County will hinge on a vote in November, but county officials are working on a plan to institute based on a successful outcome.
Before the county unleashes its campaign to garner public funds for a new facility later this year, county officials want to ensure they are prepared to move forward with the project if the vote is successful.
County commissioners are pondering two ways the county could proceed with building a new facility to replace the current courthouse, which was built in 1923.
Commissioners must decide whether to take the traditional approach, which could delay the project, or use a method popular in the private sector, which will get the project on a “fast track.”
The three-member board is expected to make a decision soon whether to let the architectural firm design the entire complex before bidding out the work or hiring a construction manager after the vote who would start the project as details of the building design are being finalized.
Each of the two methods present advantages and disadvantages, said Tim Winter, county purchasing agent.
If the county chooses the traditional route, the county would know the exact cost of the project.
The county would bid the work for the facility in a single lump sum, Winter said.
The disadvantage of going this route is the amount of time it could take before the architectural firm would have final design of the building.
Based upon a successful vote in November, Winter said the final design of the building would not be complete until eight months after the vote.
By the time the project is bid and a construction manager is hired, Winter said the project would likely start in the fall of 2003.
With that scenario, the county would have to take steps to protect the building’s core structure during the winter.
Winter also said if the county waits until then to break ground, inflation for materials and supply could also be costly.
By hiring a firm right off the bat to act as the project’s construction manager, work can start immediately.
With this method, the building’s foundation and core structure could be built in the spring of 2003 as details of the building are being finalized.
Another advantage is a construction manager would work closely with the architectural firm to avoid any building flaws in the design, Winter said.
The construction manager would also be responsible to bid out the work and award contracts.
A major disadvantage of this method is the county would not have a concrete cost of the project.
Instead, the county and the contract manager would negotiate a “guaranteed maximum price” for the work, Winter said.
The “guaranteed maximum price” could be higher than if the county bid out the project itself, but the county would have to deal with possible inflation and the winter months.
“It is all about time,” Winter said. “If we wait, that could potentially be money.”
As the Nov. 5 election approaches, the county has mapped out a plan to get the issue on the ballot.
Currently, the county’s Denver-based architect, HML Design, is working on the design phase of the 54,000-square-foot facility, which would be built at the southwest corner of Sixth and Oak streets.
The proposal includes the partial closing of Sixth Street and a new parking garage on the corner of Oak and Fifth streets.
The county is planning to review the design in April. The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission and the City Council are scheduled to examine the proposal in June.
To place the bond question on the ballot, the county must notify the county clerk’s office by July 29.
County officials are seeking public support for the new facility because the current courthouse is outdated and too small.
The state has also notified Routt County that the historical building is not in compliance with state standards for security and safety.
Currently, shackled prisoners, witnesses and victims are all thrown together in one hallway that leads to two courtrooms.
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