What is going to happen in 2019 when it comes to the Redwood County courthouse?

That topic was raised this past Tuesday (Jan. 8) when the Redwood County Board of Commissioners met for the first time in the new year. 

The board heard from John McNamara of Wold Architects who presented the most recent plans for the new justice center, as well as a non-court office building.

At the end of McNamara’s presentation, the board voted to move forward with the design development phase of a justice center building on the site where the current courthouse sits. The proposed project would house the courts, court administration, child support, the county attorney and other functions related the courts.

The current plan would have that building sit in the northeast corner of the courthouse square and would include a secure walkway from the current law enforcement center. The new building would include 17,700 square feet of space for those services all in one story, and, according to McNamara, could be built without impacting the current courthouse allowing it to continue to function as the construction takes place.

The building would include space for two courtrooms, as well as offices for the judge, a visiting judge, jury deliberation, court administration, the law library, the county attorney as well as room for Southwest Health and Human Services for child support cases.

The initial design is a rough sketch, said McNamara, adding with the decision to move forward with the design and development he will meet with each of the departments to talk about their needs to ensure they can meet their objectives.

“There is still a lot on the table to talk about, but I think this can meet those objectives,” said McNamara, adding he thinks a one-story building is the right decision.

While building a two-story facility may create a smaller footprint on the site, McNamara said the added issues, such as the need for of an elevator and any future maintenance expenses related to that, need to be taken into consideration.

The most recent cost estimate for the project is in the $7.3 million range, said McNamara, adding, however, it is very early in the planning to be looking at budgets.

In addition to talking about the new justice center building, the county board heard about a non-court office building concept from McNamara, which would move other programs currently in the courthouse, including restorative justice, the Children’s Advocacy Center, Redwood Connect, ACE and maintenance, into a different building. That proposal would require approximately 10,000 square feet of space that would also include room for technology and archival storage.

Putting up a new non-court building would have an estimated price tag of $3.5 million, while remodeling another building in proximity to the courthouse could be in the $1.5 million range, said McNamara. However, that would not include acquisition costs. No decisions were made regarding the non-court office space.

McNamara’s said he will spend the next few months working on design development of the justice center site, and will schedule an update of the process in April. However, he added if the board wants to hear additional updates prior to that he is more than willing to come and meet with them.

Should the board opt to move forward after design development, the plan would be to put together construction documents during the summer, with the bidding process taking place in September and October.

McNamara said should the process go according to plan, work on the project could begin as early as this fall.

In other action during its meeting, the county board:

• Elected Jim Salfer to serve as chair for 2019, with Lon Walling elected to serve as vice-chair.

• Approved a contract with Morris Electronics for IT staff assistance at a cost of $13,560 for 2019.

• Approved a conditional use permit for Alan Eller for a food truck on his residence on Noble Avenue east of Redwood Falls.

• Approved a conditional use permit for a gravel extraction pit for Stan Brey in Section 21 of Delhi Township. The permit expires in 2021.

• Approved the meal reimbursement rate for the year at $35 per day.

• Approved a liquor license application for the Tracy Country Club.

• Approved the mileage rate at the federal rate, which is 58 cents per mile in 2019. Those who opt to use their personal vehicle will receive 48 cents per mile.