County OKs courthouse remodel [UPDATED]Published 10:52am Friday, March 30, 2012 Updated 11:37am Friday, March 30, 2012
The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners has approved phase one of two phases as part of an Otter Tail County facilities master plan. Remodeling work for phase one will primarily be in the old law enforcement center, adjacent to the courthouse, just south of downtown Fergus Falls.
The phase one project, totaling $4.87 million, is expected to be completed in early 2013. Advertising for bids will take place in April with the bid opening on May 3.
County board members emphasized that phase one is a scaled-back project, making use of as much of the existing building as possible. Upcoming renovation will be about half of what replacement would have been.
“Major work will include the exterior of the jail, physical plant efficiency improvements and chiller and boiler plant replacements,” said David Shultz of Shultz and Associates, the architect firm, while meeting with county board members on Tuesday.
Some phase one work also includes renovations to the county-owned facility at New York Mills. The master plan is partially funded through bonding and partially out of county funds.
Of special interest to county board members, and county residents, is the shift of all public traffic to the historic north entrance to the courthouse facility, which will be made fully accessible. Other entrances will no longer be public entry points in order to increase the security of the facility.
Phase two, expected to begin in early 2013 following phase one, will focus on courthouse renovations including exterior improvements and significant remodeling of the second and third floors.
Financial breakdowns for phase one include $2.5 million for general construction, $630,000 for boilers and chillers, $504,400 for electrical, $428,400 for mechanical and $58,800 for fire protection.
Remodeling the interior of the law enforcement center includes first floor work for sheriff’s department offices, including dispatch and jail administration. Sheriff’s offices and dispatch are temporarily located on the second floor of the courthouse.
Upcoming work at the law enforcement center also will include second floor renovations for court administration and the addition of a new courtroom.
County employees will have a secure judicial corridor and connection to the court functions on the third floor of the justice center. Enhancements also will allow for a secure holding area and access to the county jail.
“Plans include reconstructing the west wall of the law enforcement center to accommodate windows and compatibility with the historic courthouse,” said Shultz. “Workers will install new windows in the law enforcement center and repair existing brick.”
Shultz said that plans also include removing the existing floor and roof structure from the old sheriff’s residence and original jail, near the railroad tracks. Reconstruction of floors and roofs will match adjacent floor levels.