Proposal would demolish old courthouse after new one is complete
Two residents speak out during public comments
Moffat County commissioners met Wednesday, June 8, in a public hearing about the future of the current Moffat County Courthouse.
The public hearing was posted in the Craig Press and on Facebook Community Chat. No decisions were made during the public hearing. Rather, it was an opportunity for community members to hear the proposal and make comments either for or against the proposed project.
Roy Tipton, director of Development Services, is the project manager for the new courthouse project, and he gave the presentation on the transition to the new courthouse and the proposed future of the old courthouse.
The current courthouse, which was originally built in 1917, has undergone renovations and additions over the years. By 1930 the original stone facade in the front of the building was taken down, and in 1962 additions were made to the old courthouse.
Because of the changes to the original structure, the courthouse is not considered a historic building and is not eligible for grants and funding toward historic preservation.
“This building is extremely difficult to repurpose,” Tipton said. “We have major items we have to deal with every week just to keep things running.”
Tipton said some of the problems at the current courthouse are HVAC issues, plumbing problems, a lack of fire protection and an inadequate electrical system.
There will need to be a phase II environmental study in August to determine what steps are needed for remediation. Tipton said there is already known asbestos in the old courthouse building.
County officials have proposed preparing for the demolition of the current courthouse building in the summer of 2023. Through a congressional spending bill, the county has received funding for an environmental study, demolition and remediation of the building.
“We need to replace something on this lot to keep the downtown area energized,” Tipton said.
Commissioner Tony Bohrer recognized the site is a highly visible piece of the community, and he said the county doesn’t want to leave it in a state that would be an eyesore.
“We’re not leaving it as dirt and rocks,” Bohrer said.
There were two community members present for the public comment portion of the meeting.
“Ultimately it would be wonderful to restore the building. I know it isn’t feasible,” Vicki Huyser said. “It is sad that more of our history is being destroyed.”
Huyser said she has skin in the game because the veterans memorial garden is located on the courthouse lawn.
“I like it here where it is accessible,” Huyser said. “Veterans stop by to visit the gardens and sit on the bench.”
Huyser and another community member, Jayne Morley, are responsible for establishing and maintaining the veteran garden at its current location, which is now centrally located.
Huyser would like to see the garden remain at its established location. If the garden were to move with the relocation of the courthouse, she said it would not provide the same access for veterans walking by. Huyser also said it would not be easy to maintain the garden at the new courthouse location.
“We did that to honor our veterans,” Huyser said. “It makes it very special to us. We bought all of that with our own money and we did all of the maintenance.”
Morley expressed the same concerns with the veteran memorial garden and asked to see the garden and the bench, which was donated by the city, preserved at their current location.
The public hearing closed after two public comments. There will be another presentation and opportunity for public comment on the proposed project at the commissioners’ regular meeting on Tuesday, June 14.
The new courthouse, which is currently being renovated from the previous Kmart building, will combine all of the county services at a single location. All of the county services, courts, public health, department of human service, county extension office and the employee wellness clinic will be relocated to the new courthouse once it’s complete.
Tipton explained some of the benefits of having all of the county services at one location, including having to maintain one building versus four. The county should also see a reduction in annual utility expenses with the consolidation of the county offices.
The purchase of the Kmart building removed $45,000 from the tax roll, but Tipton estimated that $30,000 can be recovered by selling the three county-owned buildings where the Department of Human Services, CSU Extension, and the employee health clinic are located.
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