Douglas County is moving forward with plans to build an multimillion dollar public works facility in southeast Lawrence.
On Wednesday, county commissioners are being asked to issue requests for proposals for architects to do a space study analysis, schematic design and cost estimate for a new public works facility on recently purchased land along East 25th Street. The work will give the commission a better idea of how much the project will cost, which is estimated at about $8 million.
In 2010, consultants advised the county to combine the public works department and move to a new facility. The engineering and administration division is located in a former church next to South Park and the maintenance facility is off of 23rd Street.
“It didn’t make sense to stick with existing sites for lots of reasons,” county administrator Craig Weinaug said.
Last fall, the county bought three different pieces of property next to Douglas County Jail, 3601 E. 25th St., as it prepared for a new public works facility.
The original piece of property was 34 acres and purchased for close to $1.2 million. The county later bought a piece a land from Printing Solutions valued at $250,000 and another parcel of land from the Taylor Property, which was valued at $572,720.
The county’s ownership of the land also cleared the way for a homeless shelter to be built next door. The land’s prior owners had covenants on the land that would have prevented the shelter from being built there.
Weinaug said the county commission has a vision of a cutting-edge green public works facility that would have low operating costs over time.
Having a better cost estimate on the project will help the county commission decide how to finance it, assistant county administrator Sarah Plinsky said.
The initial architecture work is expected to cost about $128,000.