Editorial: County should move on the Kmart building quickly to keep costs of a new courthouse as low as possible | CraigDailyPress.com

Editorial: County should move on the Kmart building quickly to keep costs of a new courthouse as low as possible

A rendering of the possible Moffat County Courthouse utilizing the old Kmart building.
Courtesy Photo / TreanorHL
Craig Press Editorial Board:
  • Sheli Steele, General Manager
  • Joshua Carney, Editor
  • Kandee Dilldine, community member
  • Randy Looper, community member

Now that the Moffat County Courthouse study findings are public, it’s very clear what the next step should be for county commissioners when it comes to the vacant Kmart building: buy the building quickly and get started on renovating it into a new county courthouse.

When the findings of the study were first released a few weeks ago, many community members’ initial reaction was to say no, that the county didn’t need a new courthouse, especially one that size and at that price.

However, if the county doesn’t move quickly on this piece of property and come up with a solution for a very large problem that is coming down the pipe, the county could be on the hook for millions and millions of dollars to build a new courthouse, which in turn would undoubtedly raise taxes locally.

Nobody should want that.

As it currently stands, the 94,602-square-foot Kmart building would cost roughly $25.28 million to fully renovate into a new county courthouse. If the county continued to renovate, upgrade and add onto the current courthouse, the price tag would sit around $45.51 million. Commissioners have speculated that if Chief Judge Michael O’Hara ordered the county to build a new courthouse from the ground up down the line, that price could be an additional $10 million to $15 million more.

Knowing that, the county could be looking at $60 million for a brand new courthouse built out of the ground. That’s on the low side too.

With the Kmart building still up for sale and at a reasonable $2.265 million, the county should move on the property quickly, especially in a real estate economy where houses, buildings and land are selling quickly.

This really shouldn’t be an issue that requires much thought, especially when considering how much money the county could possibly save by moving on the Kmart building now.

One issue with the community is that the county would have a new courthouse that looks like an old Kmart building. That certainly wouldn’t be the case. The county would hire an architect that would redesign the front of the building, giving Moffat County a good looking courthouse to settle into.

Commissioners should move on this quickly and not think twice. On paper, it appears to be an easy decision, one that would save the county money in the long run, while upgrading safety and space.

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