The Redwood County Board of Commissioners got a look at some potential new options for the proposed Redwood County justice center project during its Oct. 1 meeting.
While the discussions about rethinking the courthouse plan have started that does not mean it has given up on its original design. The commissioners talked about the vacation of the north portion of the courthouse square street with John McNamara of Wold Architects. That discussion also included some dialogue about how the county got to this point in the process without solidifying an agreement from the other property owner.
McNamara accepted some of the blame for that process, but he added every impression he had gotten from that property owner was that they were on board with the vacation plan. McNamara used the word “betrayed” to describe his thoughts on how the process has unfolded recently.
The county board intends to continue its plan to ask the City of Redwood Falls to vacate the street, but it was told by Jenna Peterson, Redwood County attorney, that, through conversations she has had with the city, she has been given the impression that it has no interest in taking that action.
The board is also still considering its option to exercise eminent domain in that area.
While that process continues, McNamara has also gone back to the drawing board on the project and came back presenting three different options for the board to consider should it not be able to proceed with the current plan.
One of those options would be to reconfigure the justice center project on the current site, with more of the project on the east half of the property. The challenge with that plan is that the current courthouse would have to be demolished before work could start. That added McNamara would mean relocating the departments, including the courts, to a different location during the process. He added that would involve an estimated $100,000 of cost to the project.
The majority of the board members expressed their disinterest in having to relocate employees during the project.
The second two options include moving the entire project further east and placing the justice center in between the current law enforcement center and the former human services building. One of those options would require the vacation of a portion of Third Street, which would require approval by all property owners.
Another of those options would involve adding a multi-story building on the site.
As the discussion continued, Dennis Groebner, county commissioner, raised the idea of constructing a building on the current location that would include a partial second story.
While the board discussed that option in the past as part of the process, the idea of having a single-story building was more attractive for the majority of the board at that time.
McNamara is scheduled to meet again with the county board at its Oct. 15 meeting to take a look at plans that would include Groebner’s idea.
McNamara added some of the fees that are associated with these alternate options is being offered at no cost.