County to discuss courthouse remodel

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The Routt County Board of Commissioners is looking for an architect to plan a remodel of portions of their downtown properties.

The remodel would involve minimal reconfigurations to space in the County Courthouse Annex now used by the Human Services Department, as well as to the small building at 135 Sixth St., known as the old VNA building, because the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association previously owned it.

"It's the first step in implementing the Space Needs Study that was done for us," Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.

"We just felt that this was the one piece we could work on right now, and I think, give the Human Services Department a space that might work a little better for them."

When the remodel is complete, Human Services could move into the old VNA building, and most offices there -- the emergency manager's office and the Building and Plant Department -- would move into the courthouse annex.

The office for First Impressions of Routt County and probably for Routt County United Way would stay in the old VNA building.

County commissioners will consider a request for proposals on Monday, which then could be released to architects in the next week, Stahoviak said.

The next long-term step would be to hire an architect to redesign the third floor of the county courthouse, making use of the space that courts and related offices leave behind after they move to a new building, she said.

County commissioners had planned to build a new justice center just west of downtown Steamboat Springs next to the county jail, but they have been forced to put their plans on hold while waiting to see whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will approve a permit to fill 1.4 acres of wetlands.

There has been initial word from the Army Corps that the permit could be denied, but Stahoviak said county commissioners think it's still important to move the court-related offices to a separate building, not on the county's downtown property, to free up enough space to keep county offices downtown in one area.

The county's Space Needs Study, released last summer, suggests that, in five years, the county's offices will have grown to almost fill space available downtown, including where courts and court-related offices are now.

Keeping county offices together in one downtown campus is a top priority for county commissioners, Stahoviak said.

That way, the offices that residents use the most are all together, and residents can change their voter registrations, pay taxes and do other county-related activities in one stop, she said.

"We just feel it's very important that we have the space there to keep those offices together," Stahoviak said.

Routt County Commissioners will discuss a request for proposals for architectural services to remodel a portion of the county's downtown campus at 11:30 a.m. today in the Hearing Room of the Courthouse Annex.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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