Court remodel plans presented

State likely to pick up half the tab

Architectural plans for a proposed remodel of Montezuma County’s central offices on Main Street were unveiled Tuesday.

The plans focus on the East Tower of the county building where District Court currently takes place on the second floor.

The first floor and third floors where the clerks office and the assessors office were have been vacant for some time. The departments moved to a nearby location at a new county annex on Main Street.

County and District court will be consolidated at the central county building. Montezuma is the last county in the state to bring both courts into the same location.

Four courtrooms, judges offices, judicial records, clerk of the court, and a large public counter are planned for the East Tower. Two configurations were presented.

Option A was the preferred choice by judges and the county. It shows a district courtroom and jury chambers where the clerk’s office used to be on the first floor. The court records and court clerk counter would also be on the first floor.

On the second floor, there would be a second district court and two county courts with spectator seating. There would be separate jury deliberation rooms. On the third floor county and district courts would have a shared offices for judges and court staff.

Option B alters the configuration so that county courts are located on the third floor, and judges and court staff located on the first floor. But it was deemed too inconvenient for public access, and would require a new elevator.

Many considerations were discussed, such as ADA access, elevators, and locations and number of bathrooms for the public, staff, and jury. Security checkpoints will be installed, and holding cells for inmates with court appearances are in the plans for county and district courts. Routing for prisoners, the public and court staff are kept separate.

The large plate-glass windows on the north side of the judicial building will be remodeled to be smaller and placed higher for courtroom security purposes.

Richard Backes, of Reilly Johnson Architecture, presented the plans. Construction costs are estimated at $3.1 million, plus a contingency budget. The cost triggered some sticker shock for the county commissioners and administrator.

But, the good news is that the Department of Local Affairs grant program will likely pick up at least half the bill, said Eric Hogue, court administrator.

“Because you are the last court system to consolidate, you will be at the top of the list for up to $2 million in grants, which will require a county match,” he said.

It was emphasized that the plans are preliminary and are a work in progress. .

Under the proposed plan, the Probation Department will be moved to another county property near the remodeled court building.

“We’re still in the preliminary stages,” said commissioner Keenan Ertel. “It would not be until 2015 when things get more set.”