Douglas County commissioners agreed today to move ahead with plans to build a new Public Works facility that is estimated to cost $13.9 million.
After hearing an update on the project on the general schematic plans for the site, commissioners authorized the architectural firm Clark Huesemann to begin drawing formal blueprints and design specifications for the facility that is expected to be finished in early 2015.
The new facility to be built on East 25th Street, just east of the Lawrence Community Shelter, will consolidate all the operations of the department into a single location.
Officials said it will also include new storage space for crime evidence collected by the Sheriff's Office; maintenance facilities that will serve the county's entire vehicle fleet; and meeting rooms and training seminars that can be used by all other county departments.
“This really isn't just a Public Works facility; it's really a countywide structure,” assistant county administrator Sarah Plinsky said.
Part of the cost of the project will come from $9.5 million in sales tax revenue bonds the county issued last week. Officials said the rest of the funding is already set aside from motor fuel tax revenues and cash reserves in the county's capital improvements budget.
The new facility is also being designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED standards, according to Eileen Horn, the county's sustainability coordinator who also served on the building committee that helped develop the plans.
Horn said some of the features include designing the buildings to make maximum use of natural sunlight; using recycled building materials; and landscaping to reduce storm-water runoff.
In other business, the commission:
• Approved findings of fact and conclusions related to the phasing of quarry operations at the Big Springs Quarry in western Douglas County.
• Appointed Steve Miles to a second four-year term as county appraiser.
• And agreed to waive the formal bidding process and use a state contract to hire Mission Electronics Inc., to provide technology improvements in the Division II courtroom for $70,606.