For almost two decades, local Bureau of Land Management employees have been pining for a new look to replace the maze of offices in modular trailers at the Little Snake Field Office in Craig.
But employees should be sitting pretty in May when construction on a new 12,000-square-foot building north of the current site is complete.
"It's been confusing for people to try and find us sometimes," said Jerry Strahan, assistant field manager of the Little Snake Office tucked off U.S. Highway 40. "Just for having a greater presence; this should improve our image."
BLM estimates the project at $3 million. It will cost roughly another $100,000 to furnish it, Strahan said.
After construction is complete the current site will be bulldozed and paved over for parking.
The new building lining Emerson St. and East Victory Way should be more accessible to community members, Strahan said.
It will have a conference room for large gatherings and other rooms designated for tight-knit gatherings. A spacious front entrance should be helpful for visitors with questions about the area's public lands.
The new facility will meet specifications of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The BLM's building has undergone five additions in more than 30 years, and it isn't up to code, Strahan said.
"The new building should have a better impact on the public," he said.
About 40 BLM employees and a fluctuating number of Interagency Fire Dispatch Center staffers will be housed at the new site.
BLM's new building isn't any more spacious than its current site but the floor plan will make conducting business more efficient, Strahan said.
The building is constructed with few outside entryways, making it a safer work environment, he said.
An energy-efficient design should save thousands of dollars in utility costs, Strahan said.
A number of local and regional businesses have work contracts out on the new building. Some Craig businesses include Pam's Designs, Anson Construction and Dave Corey Electric.
It's highly unusual for BLM posts to receive funds for new office buildings, Strahan said.
A new facility was approved because BLM already owns the current office and a couple acres of surrounding land.
It is unlikely that Congress would allocate money for the local BLM to move out of its current location to lease another building when it already owns the site, Strahan said.
"We're kind of boxed in," he said. "We would have either had to move or build on the site. Since we already have this investment, Congress would have to appropriate more even money to move off-site."
Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.