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Options grow, costs shrinking for replacement of courthouse in YM County

GRANITE FALLS — Options to solve the building and space needs for services now located in the Yellow Medicine County courthouse are getting more varied, and less costly.

The Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday reviewed new proposals from Wold Architects, of St. Paul. The plan that generated the most interest calls for demolishing the original 1889 portion and 1970s addition to the courthouse and erecting a separate 18,500-square-foot structure on the campus. The new structure would either be attached or near the Law Enforcement Center and Family Services building, the newest portion of the current campus.

It would cost an estimated $5.2 million to erect the structure and remove the 1889 and 1970s structures, according to the estimate.

That compares to a previous proposal that would have erected a 46,896-square-foot facility at an estimated cost of $8.1 million.

What is now being termed Option C still addresses the county’s main concern: It provides the district court services with an area that better meets its needs for security and protects the integrity of the court operations. County Administrator Peggy Heglund said she conferred with district court officials about the new proposal, and they indicated that it meets their needs.

The Option C proposal would also provide space for the county attorney, restorative justice and probation services, and the county’s information technology services.

It would not provide space for veterans service, public health or the food shelf, all currently located in the courthouse. The veterans service office could be moved to space in the law enforcement center. The county would need to lease space elsewhere in Granite Falls to house Countryside Public Health, said Heglund.

The administrator said she is also hopeful that the Granite Falls Ministerial Association would help provide a new location for the food shelf.

Along with new options from Wold Architects, the commissioners received information from a St. Louis, Mo., company with a newly opened office in the Twin Cities. CTS Group completed a walk-through of the courthouse and will be providing at no cost an assessment of whether it would be feasible to renovate the courthouse space to meet the needs that have been identified.

A previous report by Wold had suggested it was not cost-effective to so. It found that it would cost an estimated $2.7 million to bring the area to current standards without meeting any other objectives, such as clustering offices.

The commissioners will review the CTS Group report Feb. 11. Commissioners had previously targeted this meeting to make a decision on building plans. In discussions Tuesday, the commissioners said they are willing to take more time before acting with the aim of finding the most cost-effective option.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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