Site for justice center selected

Building will sit south of Routt County Jail

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— The county has settled on a site for its proposed justice center.

The 40,000-square-foot building will stand south of the jail along Shield Drive in an undeveloped lot within the Curve subdivision.

County officials decided not to build west of the Routt County Jail on a piece of land commonly referred to as the Klein property. Their decision comes after months of negotiations with owners of both properties.

Neither location was a clear winner when county officials began looking into which could best accommodate new courtrooms several months ago.

"We weren't working with the best of both worlds on either property," County Commissioner Doug Monger said.

Both parcels are slightly more than five acres.

Outlot A in the Curve subdivision eventually won out because county officials felt they could mitigate the property's drawbacks.

A narrow strip of city land runs between the jail and the Klein property. A secure walkway would have been needed to escort prisoners to and from the jail.

"We weren't completely sure that we were going to be able to make appropriate arrangements with the city," County Attorney John Merrill said.

The narrower, longer shape of the Klein property posed some building challenges, he added.

Outlot A's rectangular shape better suits a square facility.

Architects still must contend with wetlands and high gradients when designing the justice center on Outlot A, Monger said.

The property's asking price was $675,000, but the county will pay $550,000. The costs of infill, however, will up that price by another $200,000 to $300,000.

The land, which slopes downward from U.S. Highway 40 toward the Yampa River, must be filled in with rock to even out the steep gradient.

The owner agreed to pay for 14,000 cubic feet of infill; the county will foot the bill for another 15,000 cubic feet, Monger said.

The Klein property is still listed at $995,000. Realtor Bob Geer said the owners are still looking for a buyer.

Now that the county has identified a site, Monger hopes plans for the justice center will move quickly.

The original $1.5 million court facility project would have sat on a .64-acre plot in downtown Steamboat Springs.

The county intends to hang on to the four lots along Oak Street between Fifth Street and Butcherknife Creek and between Oak Street and the alley for future expansion of downtown county offices.

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