Justice center meeting today

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— Routt County commissioners will offer a sneak peek tonight of the planned 50,000-square-foot justice center.

During an open house, residents can view plans for the building's exterior and position on the property, the floor layouts for interior courtrooms and offices, the areas designated as parking lots and the position of the security tunnel to connect the justice center to the county jail.

Cost estimates will be discussed as well. Commissioners have said the cost will range between $12 million and $14 million.

Questions about the justice center's location have been raised by the public and by the Steamboat Springs City Council.

The council agreed last week to send a second letter to Routt County commissioners urging them to keep the justice center in downtown Steamboat Springs.

Commissioners decided last spring to build the justice center west of town. That decision came after voters rejected the county's request for taxpayers to fund a justice center at the corner of Sixth and Oak streets.

The justice center is proposed for a five-acre parcel south of the Routt County Jail along Shield Drive and within the Curve Development Subdivision.

The county has a contract to purchase the land for $550,000. Although the county has not closed, Commissioner Doug Monger said the county, in essence, owns the property.

Monger said the county is drafting a reply to the city stating there are no plans to change the center's location.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have already been spent on the design of the justice center at the location west of town. The county is under court order to build the courthouse by Sept. 1, 2006.

"We are on a time frame," Monger said. "We've got to get on the road and get going."

One benefit of building the center west of town is that some costs may be kept down, Monger said.

Preliminary cost estimates of building the center suggest that costs will be lowered because a parking structure won't be necessary, Monger said.

The commissioners will take written comments during the open house and may incorporated those comments in the planning process.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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