A new option for the Redwood County courthouse project proposal was presented to the board during its Jan. 21 meeting, and, after its first glance, the commissioners expressed that they felt it was a good solution.

In fact, after hearing the explanation of it by John McNamara of Wold Architects, the commissioners, by consensus, gave him the green light to take the preliminary drawings he showed them and add some more detail to it.

The courthouse plan that was presented is based on direction the board gave to McNamara to take a look at creating a two-story structure on the land north of where the current courthouse sits.

Also, in the plan is a solution McNamara offered to address the security challenges of bringing prisoners from the law enforcement center to the courthouse. That solution would be to build a tunnel under the ground from one building to the other. 

McNamara told the board that the addition of an underground tunnel, as well as the change of plans to have a two-story building will come with increased costs, to include the installation of elevators.

While merely a preliminary estimate, McNamara shared that the tunnel may increase the cost of the project by $1 million.

“We are still in the very early stages of this,” said McNamara. “There are a lot of details that still need to be worked out.”

McNamara added it looks as if the project will require more digging below the new courthouse for the footings, which would then allow for more of the mechanical items to be housed below the building rather than an initial plan to place it on the roof. With the added work, McNamara’s initial, preliminary estimate is $12.1 million.

While that proposal continues to be developed, progress also continues to be made on the former human services building, and the county board plans to proceed with that work very soon.