All rise

Commissioners to move to historic courtroom

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Routt County planning staff maneuver through a maze of filing cabinets in their office Tuesday. Construction of the new Routt County Justice Center means that renovations at the Routt County Courthouse and Annex will provide new offices and more space for county staff.

When the Routt County Justice Center is completed in late 2007, the historic courtrooms of the Routt County Courthouse will have a new use.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners will conduct meetings and hearings in what is currently the Routt County Court on the third floor of the courthouse on Lincoln Avenue. The larger venue will allow for more than 50 people to attend county meetings, a much larger crowd than can be accommodated in the existing commissioners hearing room.

The eventual move will be part of a large renovation of the courthouse and the Routt County Courthouse Annex. The renovation is designed to increase office and meeting space for county staff by utilizing facilities no longer needed because of the new justice center.

On Tuesday, commissioners approved schematic drawings of the renovations, prepared by Nan Anderson of the Golden firm Andrews and Anderson Architects. The firm also is designing the new Steamboat Springs Community Center.

The renovations will result in more office space for county departments including planning, environmental health and elections.

Anderson said the courthouse project will encompass about two-thirds of the annex and nearly all of the courthouse's third floor, primarily on the interior.

"Other than restoring some of the terra cotta, brick and windows, the exterior appearance won't change on either building at all," Anderson said. "I think the project really demonstrates the commissioners' interest in restoring a great historic building for the city."

Anderson did not have a cost estimate. Commissioners are pursuing state grants for historical preservation work.

Anderson said preservation will be a large part of renovations to the county courtroom.

"That will be fun, because we'll be able to restore some of the original courtroom finishes in the new hearing room," she said.

The district court across the hall will be reconfigured to accommodate a conference room and offices, Anderson said. The commissioners' new offices also will be on the third floor of the courthouse.

"The corner office is mine," Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak joked Tuesday.

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