Discussion takes place on potential of judicial complex 062821
[Editor's Note: Due to unforeseen circumstances, this reporter was unable to attend this discussion. Amy Bell of GroundworkStudio.com made her notes available for publication. It is likely that another virtual session will be held, according to Bell.]
On Monday, a group discussion took place to talk about the entire courthouse campus (Old County Jail, District Courthouse, and Black St building), which is under consideration as a judicial complex.
Is it easily accessible by staff?
Does it feel safe?
How do people access the site?
General considerations: access, activity, aesthetics and maintenance, connectivity, lighting (safety and dark skies), renovation of courthouse, screening and privacy, topography, views (both aesthetics and safety)
Think about vehicular and pedestrian circulation.
The new building or building addition could provide 45,000 SF over two or three stories. Is there potential for public spaces or is it better to separate secure/public uses by building?
Is gated parking necessary? (approx. 8,000 SF, 30 spaces) could accommodate just court staff or court staff and other municipal staff.
Will provide 80-150 public parking spaces. Court staff indicated that gated, or at least parking designated for staff is desired.
How many entrances are needed?
Bus stop should be off-street.
Can improve courthouse grounds, but not alter the view of the courthouse significantly given historic designation of the courthouse.
- Old County Jail: 12,000 SF footprint
- Existing parking: Approximately +/-130 spaces in parking lot and
along Black St. Does not take into account parking along Lyon St. at the old jail building.
Will recommend additional study to determine parking and traffic needs/usage
District court often calls 70 jurors for jury trials. Magistrate court typically calls ~40 jurors. On jury days, there is not enough parking. Gated parking would be nice for security.
Could consider angled parking on Broadway to increase parking capacity. If public does not want to trek from back of parking lot now, might be deterred from parking on Broadway by uphill climb.
Possible parking around Black Street building? Think about topography and existing vegetation.
Black Street would be safer as a one-way street. Currently it provides the only pedestrian access as well and it does not have a sidewalk, so safety is a great concern. Design leads you to front door. Road approach is not safe (particularly in heels). This is downtown, should be accessible on foot.
- Cutting off Black St. with a new building would make traffic issues worse at that end of the campus. (Black St is one-way north of Market). Could have a skyway connecting buildings across Black St. Need to provide easy access from street to entrance, particularly for prisoner transport. If all traffic is exiting at Yankie and Black, Yankie should be one-way (east). Need a traffic study to determine if Yankie can handle this traffic level.
Need walkway and bike path to make campus/site accessible to people.
- Bike parking would be good to have. Court users do bike and some
lack driver's licenses.
Can topography be modified to improve accessibility? It would be difficult given historic preservation considerations, but an accessible route could be possible from N Cooper St.
Front lawn is not a usable space but has potential to be. Benches are strangely placed. See patio spaces recently built at WNMU. Could more trees (and shade) be planted? Could replace large existing arborvitaes with shade trees to create more shade. Formerly trees lined path up to courthouse (removed in 80s?). Susan may have photos. Lawn was intended as a grand entrance. Could be less extensive to suit today's (and tomorrow's) climate (and ease maintenance).
Is there a cost consideration? Typically, less expensive to add on, but historic designation likely complicates things. New construction would be less complicated. No budget has been established at this time.
Is the old jail going to be demolished or could it be rehabilitated? Not a firm answer at this time, but county likely intends to demolish (contains asbestos, mold, other issues). Would like to provide more space between the campus and homes on N. Lyon and W. Yankie. Demolition and new construction are a concern for these residents.
- Some improvements – such as improved pedestrian and bicycle access, could be done now, before demolition.
Will buildings be divided by use? Public access in existing courthouse, secure uses in new buildings has been proposed. How then is the Black St. Bldg. used?
Public parking could be broken up into smaller spaces with more direct access to building entrances.
Black Street building faces north: ice in the winter. Western facing buildings get very hot in summer.
Black Street building (currently empty) will house Magistrate Court, but temporarily (could happen as soon as this fall, not a long-term solution). Could it make more sense to attach the new building to that building? Could there be a secure entrance to both the new building and the Black St building? Could also have all courts in the new building with a single entrance. Magistrate court does not have same security as District Court, which is provided by the County. If in the same building could take advantage of District security, want to have both in the same buildings.
Could an addition be made to the Black St. building to accommodate two courts? There appears to be space, so budget may be the limiting factor.
Buffer for NE neighbors – wall?
- incorporate public art?
- Think about sound from Judicial Complex and views of the complex from neighboring properties.
May provide multiple site layout options to county at the end of this process, with explanation of pros/cons with each scenario.