New plan for county offices introduced to council
A plan for new county offices, increasing security and becoming Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant was introduced to Pulaski County officials Monday evening.
Pulaski County Maintenance Director Jeff Johnston introduced the plan for an addition, renovations, demolition, memorial garden and parking lot to the council during a joint session. The commissioners were already aware of the plan as they have been working with Johnston about a year and a half to create it. The plan addresses several of issues the maintenance department and county are facing such as structural repairs of the courthouse, security of the county buildings and becoming completely ADA-compliant.
In the presentation Johnston gave to the council members, it states the purpose of the plan was threefold. The plan outlines how the county can reduce operating and maintenance costs, while also making the best use of the county property and facilities. The changes will also promote interdepartmental efficiency and usability while increasing the security of not only the buildings but of a majority of the county offices.
The proposed plan is broken into four phases with the majority of the plan costing about $5.5 million. The plan addresses several operational issues including courthouse security, meeting ADA requirements, interoffice usability, general usability, environmental controls, fire alarms and suppression, public parking, power outages, exterior courthouse repairs and utility costs.
Johnston said if the council decides not to move forward with the project then the exterior of the courthouse has to be addressed. Additional damage has happened with the courthouse structure and Johnston predicts it will continue if it’s not addressed. He used the example that the exterior stairs are sinking and the walls are moving. There is evidence of this in an area of the west entrance.
He also said that if the county does not want to move forward with the addition, a sally port and another elevator will have to be built to keep inmates away from the general public. New entrances will also have to be created. Johnston estimated that work along with exterior structure work of the courthouse to cost about $15 million.
In addition to the project, the maintenance department will be vacating the garage next to the jail and moving their office to the old historical museum next to the east annex. That garage could then be used as a vocational area of the inmates.
Commissioner Kenny Becker said the proposal was created to address the security issues they have heard about time and time again.
Commissioner Jerry Locke said, “It’s not a matter of if something is going to happen. It’s when and how bad.”
Pulaski Circuit Court Judge Michael Shurn asked what will happen in the meantime with security regarding the courthouse.
Johnston said further information will have to be obtained and discussed with the commissioners and circuit court judge-elect Mary Welker.