Firm can start justice center plans

Committee: It's time to let them do their job

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The architectural firm tasked with designing the county's new justice center got the go-ahead Wednesday night to begin putting ideas on paper.

Architects from Denver-based HLM Design were asked to come back in two months with more detailed plans of what the building could look like.

A volunteer committee of county officials and residents that meets monthly to discuss the justice center's makeup requested the two-month interim.

Committee members decided it was time to stop talking about what they would like to see included in a justice center and turn their ideas over to HLM Design.

It's time to let the architects do their job, Routt County Commis-sioner Doug Monger said.

It doesn't make sense to continue meeting for the sake of meeting, he added.

Architects Russell Sedmack and Ted Halsey said they would return in July with a few design options for a building with three courtrooms and space for probation staff, court administration, jury deliberation, judges' chambers and the District Attorney's Office.

The committee asked the architects to design the building with a fourth courtroom in mind.

Office space would occupy the space intended for a fourth courtroom until the need arose. Many committee members agreed that constructing a separate fourth courtroom would alienate those voters who voiced their opposition last fall to building for needs too far into the future.

"I don't think it's our job to build for people 80 years from now," Jim Stanko said.

A fourth courtroom was "essentially unused space," Allan White said.

"When the need comes up, let's deal with it then," he said.

Sedmack and Halsey used size standards for court facilities in Colorado and came up with a 32,400- to 34,100-square-foot building and then compared those numbers to commercial office standards for corporate facilities.

"It's tight," Sedmack said. "But that's what we believe we've been asked to provide."

Including a finished fourth courtroom would increase those numbers by 4,000 feet.

Not everyone lampooned the idea of planning for future needs.

"There's some efficiencies in adding the space now that you could never save later," architect John Gossett said.

Gossett and Bob Bernard represented the Office of the State Court Administrator at Wednesday night's meeting. Both men are familiar with the ins and outs of building judicial facilities that comply with state-mandated measurements.

While the committee supported more conservative size estimates for departments that would share the new justice center, several people cautioned against cutting back so much that it eroded the building's efficiency.

"I think that we're going to be left wanting before we even put the key in the door," committee member Chriss Parks said.

-- To reach Danie Harrelson call 871-4203

or e-mail dharrelson@steamboatpilot.com

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