Design team produces modified Vilas County courthouse conceptSubmitted: 02/09/2016
EAGLE RIVER - Vilas County's courthouse expansion could look a little different and sit in a different spot than previously agreed upon, but those changes could save close to a million dollars and speed up construction.  Tuesday, a county committee agreed that's a good path to take.

The Public Property Committee looked over a new design proposal for the $10 million project, a project that will replace the old social services wing and bring several government services back to the courthouse campus.

The changes came after the county board decided against adding a new courtroom. The county simply doesn't know when or if it will get a new judge. 

The proposed changes free up more parking spaces and allow workers to stay in their offices until construction is finished.  The new plan would shift the design farther east, to the property's southeast corner. The changes would create new parking lots in front of the oldest part of the courthouse as well as behind the new addition.

"I think this will be a cleaner building because they won't have to try and match up to all of these different levels," Vilas County Board Chairman Ron De Bruyne said Tuesday. "I mean, it's kind of the same space only in a little different-shaped box."

The new building location would allow the county to add another courtroom at a later date. The changes the design team showed the committee Tuesday would save about $800,000. Many board members said it was important to take the time now to get the project done right.

"We're not talking a dollar here; I mean, we're talking millions of dollars," De Bruyne said of the entire project. "That's a lot of money. I don't care who you are, especially if it isn't my money. It's your money so, yeah, we don't want to do this a lot of times."

Construction could start as soon as this fall, but changes need to pass the full county board first. The design team hopes to finalize plans this week for the board to vote on soon.

Story By: Lane Kimble

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