County to unveil master plan

Public can take look at $36 million proposal Tuesday

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The Kootenai County commissioners are holding an open house on Tuesday to roll out the proposed $36 million county facilities master plan to the public, the first step to possibly putting a bond measure on the ballot.

"If the commissioners move this forward and put this to a vote, this is an opportunity to gain more information so (voters) could be better in-formed," said Commiss-ioner Dan Green.

The public meeting, scheduled for 5 p.m. at the county administration building at 451 Government Way, will include a presentation of the proposed plan by Steve McNutt, with NAC Architecture.

Members of the public will be free to ask questions and share their opinions.

"This is not a hearing, no decisions are being made," Green said. "People can come in and see what (the architect behind the plan) is suggesting, his recommendations to develop our campus on a 20-year horizon."

The plan provides a framework for at least $36 million worth of structure expansions and new buildings to meet increasing demand for county services and to address significant inefficiencies.

Put together by NAC Architecture as the result of a county-commissioned study, the plan chiefly covers a dramatic makeover to the county campus at the corner of Northwest Boulevard and Government Way in Coeur d'Alene.

Recommendations in the plan include building a 6 to 8 -level parking garage on Northwest Boulevard, an expansion of the administration building, and a new justice building.

The aim is to consolidate operations at the main county campus, the commissioners have said, saving on rental and transportation costs, as well as running a smoother operation.

"I don't like the fractured facilities we have," Green said, pointing to NAC's analysis that consolidating courtrooms could save $400,000 a year. "Plus the state is sending us two more judges. If that happens, we have to have a place to put them. Right now, we'd have to lease space."

The parking garage would cost $8 to $10 million, according to an earlier presentation of the plan to the commissioners. The new justice building would cost $20.1 million. The build-out of the administration building is projected at $3.3 million, and two $750,000 skyways are proposed to link campus buildings.

These and other details of the plan will be discussed on Tuesday.

Green said the next step after collecting input will be determining whether to develop the plan in stages. Eventually the commissioners will have to put some kind of bonding authority to the voters, he said, to pay for the plan.

"The commissioners are trying to be proactive," Green said.

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