Human Services building so cramped its shortcomings are driving policies and procedures | SteamboatToday.com

Human Services building so cramped its shortcomings are driving policies and procedures

Routt County Board of Commissioners

— On. Nov. 10, the Routt County Board of Commissioners gained a sense of what a new, multi-million-dollar Human Services building on Sixth Street might entail.

Steamboat Architectural Associates principal Bill Rangitsch and Erica Swissler Hewitt, the firm's project manager, presented commissioners with the results of a building needs assessment, intended to inventory the space needs of the county department for the next 20 years.

What they learned is that the Human Services Department needs more secure interview rooms, more space for staff meetings, more offices and, based on tentative plans for a two-story building, an elevator. A place in the building for children with child-sized furniture would be nice, and so would public restrooms.

Swissler told commissioners that, after surveying employees, she reached the conclusion the current building is so cramped that the lack of functional space is driving policies and procedures at Human Services.

"There is an immediate need for the department to be located in one functional building," she said. "The existing building is overcrowded and lacks suitable secure space for staff and clients."

The Routt County Human Services Department, led by Director Vicki Clark, currently occupies a 7,175-square-foot remodeled former mortuary across Sixth Street from the Routt County Courthouse Annex. One of its attributes is that it provides ample open space along Butcherknife Creek.

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The range of services the department provides include food assistance, Medicaid, child welfare, the Fatherhood Program of Routt County and more. The staff of the department currently numbers 27, and the new building would accommodate 35.

No decision to build a new building on the current site has been made, but Rangitsch told commissioners that, based on recent conversations with building contractors, the current cost of a new, two-story, 13,000-square-foot building there could range from $3.57 million to $5 million (not including design and engineering costs). A significant cost factor is whether the county opts to build underground parking.

County Manager Tom Sullivan said the intent is to undertake building the new building within five years with help from the state of Colorado, including rent paid for some of its programs, which are delivered by the Department of Human Services.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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