Officials to discuss possible move of county buildings to East Park Commerce Center
By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — Officials could vote to take the first steps of moving county facilities out of the downtown area at Tuesday night’s County Board meeting.
“We’re currently at a step where we’re entertaining moving forward with schematic design phase services.” said County Executive Chris Holman in a email to the Gazette.
It is important to note that the agenda item does not involve specific costs or designs. The resolution outlined agrees to have BWBR/Dewberry architects create a master plan for development of a 20-25 acre space at the East Park Commerce Center, east of County Highway R and north of County Highway HH. While there are costs associated with the design process, they are not yet fleshed out if ultimately approved.
According to some officials, some key benefits of the move could include potential savings of 10-15 percent when comparing cost of remodeling county buildings to new construction. In addition, County officials and emergency responders would have easier access to highways from a new location.
However, many have expressed concern over such a move, believing that the jail and courthouse should remain downtown. This includes concerns over student, low-income, and elderly access to the courthouse from the downtown area, access of public transit to the facilities, and potential hits to downtown businesses with the departure of a county facility.
According to Holman, if approved, costs and designs would be vetted through various committees with final approvals going through the board.
“Ultimately, the discussion tomorrow will give us some direction whether they vote in favor of the resolution or not, and it’s direction that we need to take this planning process to a point where we can determine what we will do to answer the numerous questions we have for our infrastructural needs,” Holman stated via email. “Wherever the county board takes us in this process is what I’ve consistently referred to as the starting point for the overall, long-term plan.”
The County Board will meet tomorrow night at 5PM at the courthouse.