Moffat County has hired an architecture firm to draw up plans for renovating the Public Safety Center with courtrooms, beginning a long process with an uncertain end.
At its meeting Monday, the County Commission approved a $115,700 bid from Denver-based Klipp, which specializes in civic projects.
The firm will survey deficiencies with the current court setup at the County Courthouse, study how possible it is to construct a courtroom addition at the Safety Center and devise preliminary architecture schematics and cost estimates for such a project.
In addition, Klipp will study the same information for moving Moffat County Social Services into the Courthouse and use space leftover by departing court staff.
Commissioner Tom Gray said if there is room for Social Services, the county could sell the agency's current building on Breeze Street.
Gray said building courtrooms at the Safety Center is a "logical" step for the county. It would eliminate the cost and hassle of prisoner transport, as well as provide an instant means of court security, which has been a concern of court staff.
Gray added that nothing is certain for a project in its literal infancy.
"Nothing will be done tomorrow," he said. "Right now, we're looking at exploring options and being prepared for the future, whatever that might be."
According to the county's bid request, Klipp should be finished with its analyses by July 31, 2009.
Klipp did not submit the lowest of eight bids received, but was the second most expensive, coming in almost $75,000 more than the low bid of $40,800, submitted by Reilly Johnson Architecture, also based in Denver.
A committee made up of Commissioner Tom Mathers, Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz and Evan Herman, 14th Judicial District court administrator, narrowed the bids down to three companies to invite for face-to-face interviews, which included Klipp and Reilly Johnson.
Jantz said the committee's philosophy was to invite those companies that made a personal site visit to Moffat County before submitting a bid. It also was important that the company have prior experience designing jails and courtrooms.
Klipp was the best choice, Jantz said.
"Their personability was a big factor, and their past history with all the jobs they've done," Jantz said. "They understand what we're looking for and our needs and our wants."
The project still came in under its $150,000 projected cost. The county will pay 25 percent of Klipp's $115,700 bill, with the other 75 percent covered by a grant from the Colorado Court Security Commission, awarded in October.
The county's bid request also asked for companies to submit prices for a final construction phase.
Although the eight bidding companies submitted costs for this phase - including Klipp's of up to $440,800 - the bids were so different that the commission decided to postpone its award for the final phase, County Budget Analyst Tinneal Gerber said.
If the commission elects to pursue construction, it may advertise for new bids, or it may contract with Klipp, Gerber said.
Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org