New Redwood County Government Services Building set to open next week / new Justice Center basement going in
The 130-year old Redwood County Courthouse is totaled. It would cost considerably more to get the building patched up from basement to roof and updated to current building code than the building itself is worth.
For years, the Redwood County board has been dealing with the rapidly declining courthouse building. Many departments were moved about a dozen years ago over to the Redwood County Government Center on S. Mill Street. As for the other departments, and for the court itself ….
The long-in-the-planning $1.2 million Redwood County Government Services Building is set to open for business to the public next week, while the basement of the new $10 million Redwood County Justice Center (“the new courthouse”) is being built as we speak.
The plan is that on next Monday, June 7, the following departments will be open for business in the new Government Services Building: Child Advocacy (Child’s Place, an independent non-profit); Restorative Justice; ACE; Redwood Connect; the IT server room; and the county maintenance dept.
After that, the current courthouse will be not used for anything except for the court itself, and related offices such as the Court Administrator and County Attorney.
Although construction on the Justice Center and the Government Services Building overlapped, they are completely separate projects, with separate funding and separate purposes.
Vicki Knobloch Kletcher, Redwood County Administrator, told KLGR the board’s original hope was to put the remaining county departments and court offices into the same new building. However, doing that would have required a two story structure, which would have driven up costs. Another point of moving certain departments out of the Justice Center is to increase security for Child Advocacy, Circle Time meetings, etc. when the Justice Center is closed for evenings and weekends.
The board determined it was more cost effective to repurpose the former Human Services Building next to the courthouse instead. By separating the court and the other departments into two buildings, the board reduced the cost of both projects by about $1 million.
Currently you can see the basement of the new Justice Center taking shape on the north lawn of the old courthouse. A secured tunnel will connect the Justice Center with the County Jail a couple hundred feet to the northeast, allowing prisoners to make court appearances without having to walk outside, exposed to the elements and the public. Construction of the tunnel is expected to begin this autumn, with a temporary road closure.
Jim Theurer, project supervisor for The Contegrity Group, told KLGR the basement is about half the size of the final building, which will stretch out further to the south, east and west. The North wall of the basement is approximately where the final front wall of the main floor will be.
Once it is finished, the old courthouse will be demolished, and its site used for a parking lot. The new Justice Center is expected to be finished a little over a year from now, in mid-2022.
(Clarification: a change was made in the fourth paragraph to point out children’s advocacy is now an independent non-profit called Child’s Place.)