Steamboat Springs If Routt County residents decide to fund a new judicial facility, county officials plan to use the current court facility for additional office space and a large meeting room.
For the Nov. 5 election, the county is planning to ask voters to support a building referendum for a new judicial facility, which would be built at the southwest corner of Sixth and Oak streets.
If the new facility is approved, the county plans to renovate and transform the historical courthouse into office space in an attempt to house every county department in one complex.
The courthouse, which was built in 1923, and the annex in Steamboat Springs do not have enough office space for every county department.
Departments that operate at other building sites in Steamboat are Probation, Environmental Health and the Coroner's Office.
For the office space the Probation Department uses off Sixth Street, the county pays an annual operating fee of about $41,000, said Dan Strnad, county finance director.
Environmental Health and Coroner Doug Allen share office space, which also costs the county an annual operating fee of $41,000.
The operating cost includes rent and utilities, Strnad said.
The county also rents office space for the county's Office of Veterans Affairs, which costs about $3,400 a year.
Other departments that also do not work in the county's main complex are Purchasing, First Impressions and Emergency Service.
These departments are housed in the former Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association building, which is where the county is proposing to build the new justice facility.
The county bought the building and two other adjacent properties for a new judicial facility for $1.5 million.
"We would like to get rid of the buildings we lease," Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. "We would like to locate everyone back in one facility."
The key to do that will be a new judicial facility, which would house Routt County and 14th Judicial District courtrooms, the District Attorney's office, Probation and court support staff.
The proposal includes the partial closing of Sixth Street and a parking garage on the corner of Oak and Fifth streets.
The county plans to review the building's design in April. Currently, the county's Denver-based architect, HML Design, is working on the design phase of the 54,000-square-foot facility.
To place the bond question on the ballot, the county must notify the county clerk's office by July 29.
County officials will be seeking public support for the new facility later this year because the third-floor courthouse facility is outdated and too small.
The state has also notified Routt County 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.
Two 14th Judicial District Court judges, Richard P. Doucette and Joel S. Thompson, share the district courtroom. Routt County Judge James Garrecht uses the other courtroom, which is smaller.
Stahoviak said there is support to transform the two courtrooms into the building's original design. The courtrooms use to be one large room but were separated by a narrow hallway.
Stahoviak said a large hearing room for county public meetings is needed. Whenever the county has a meeting for an issue that draws in the public, it will have the meetings at another building. Most of these meetings are held at Steamboat Springs' Centennial Hall.
Court Administrator Evan Herman and his staff also work in cramped quarters. When the courthouse was first built, it housed five employees, which handled 216 cases. The number of cases that are heard now at the facility is more than 4,000.
If voters support a new justice facility at the ballot box, the county would then make plans to renovate and transform the courthouse.