The old Redwood County Courthouse is totaled. The nearly 130 year old building would cost more to get fixed up than appraisers say the building itself is worth. To give just one example, Redwood County Administrator Vicki Knobloch stated if the courthouse’s current central heating and ventilation system were to fail, it would cost the county $875,000 just to get that one system up and running again.
Then there are security concerns. For decades, whenever prisoners have had to make court appearances, they have had to be walked outside and across the street from the Redwood County jail to the courthouse and back again. That was acceptable for many years, but current standards require more security for both prisoners and law enforcement.
In addition, there is very limited security inside the courthouse. The court itself is on the third floor, with no security except a screening right before the court and court administrator’s offices. Knobloch said it’s very unnerving to court and county attorney staff to know there’s no way to control who comes into the courthouse and where they’re allowed to go. If someone with a grudge could came in, staff might not have any warning or ability to protect themselves.
It’s been a muli-year struggle for Redwood County board members and staff to come up with a workable, economical solution, but a likely answer is in sight.
For a time, the Redwood County board asked WOLD Architects to design a new two-story structure for the courthouse and court-related programs in a structure attached directly to the current Sheriff’s Office. However, to fit onto the existing footprint of land would have required closing down part of the street around the courthouse. A two-story structure also would have added to the expense.
After considering options, the Redwood County Board chose to reacquire the old Redwood County Human Services Building, and remodel it into a new home for court-related programs such as the restorative justice restorative justice, ACE program, child advocacy program, maintenance, storage, and technology server room.
At the June 2 Redwood County Board meeting, the board voted to send out for bids for the approximately $2.1 million remodeling project. According to Knobloch, the board will most likely consider bids during the July 7 meeting.
As for the new Justice Center project, an estimate submitted to the county board on June 2 by the project managers, the Contegrity Group, call for an approximately $10.2 million, one-story secured courthouse to be built on the site of the existing one. An underground corridor under the street will provide a completely secured way for law enforcement and prisoners to go back and forth between the Sheriff’s Office and the new Justice Center.
Knobloch estimated it looks like bids for that project will be requested sometime in August, with the project being completed about a year after bids are accepted.
For more information, contact the Redwood County Administrator’s Office.