Pitkin County Courthouse renovations price tag nearly $5 million
Renovations to the Pitkin County Courthouse could begin this summer and will cost nearly $5 million, a county official said Tuesday.
The space is being re-jiggered and made safer for employees and the public after city police and several county offices moved out last summer to new digs down the street. Prior to Tuesday, the county’s cost estimates for the project were merely placeholders until officials had a better idea of the design needs, said Jon Peacock, Pitkin County manager.
“This is where the budgeting really becomes real,” he said. “This is really the first budget based on design.”
The full cost of the project is now estimated at $4.73 million, said Jodi Smith, the county’s facilities director. Smith estimated the cost at between $3 million and $5 million in June.
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The county previously budgeted $2.95 million in 2017 and 2018 for the courthouse renovations, and now will have to come up with another nearly $1.8 million, she said. Smith plans on applying for two grants worth $250,000 to help offset the costs, while county Finance Director Connie Baker said another $435,000 will come from capital fund savings from 2018. That makes a transfer of $1.09 million from the county’s general fund necessary to complete the project, they said.
If the grants don’t come through, an additional $250,000 transfer from the general fund “wont break the bank,” Baker said.
Commissioners had the option of denying the funding, thereby sending the project back to the drawing board. In that case, the safety measures and other renovations would likely be done in a piecemeal fashion over the next five to 10 years, Peacock said.
Commissioners decided Tuesday to approve the money.
“It’s time to do it,” said Board of County Commissioners Chairman Greg Poschman. “It seems like it’s not going to get any cheaper.”
County officials along with courthouse employees and officials from the 9th Judicial District have spent months planning the redesign so judges and courthouse employees can be separated from the public as they are in most courthouses. The renovations are security-centered and will reduce the number of public entrances in the historic building, built in 1890, from three to one.
The current main entrance on the building’s south side off Main Street will function as the one public entrance. It will feature the standard X-ray screening equipment, weapons checks and sheriff’s deputies seen in most other courthouse entrances. Part of the renovations will include installing an entrance that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which will alter the building’s facade slightly.
Other changes include a third courtroom in the building’s basement or “garden” level, as well as an expanded jury deliberation space, improved judges’ chambers with bathrooms and adding an exterior stairway from the top floor in case of emergencies.
Also, the District Attorney’s Office, the Court Clerk’s Office and the Probation Department will receive expanded office space in the newly renovated courthouse.
Smith said officials will apply for a permit next month and hope to start work on the 11-month project in July.
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Pools in Aspen and Pitkin County will be allowed to open Monday, though COVID-19-related rules will apply.