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20-year plan could put county in new facility

By Maura Wery

Riley County may be operating out of new offices in the next two decades if a proposal reviewed by county commissioners Thursday is implemented.

The estimated $3.2 million, 20-year project is designed to fit long-term growth needs in the county. Public works director Leon Hobson presented two options for implementation of the proposal, developed by Brent Bowman of Bowman, Bowman, Novick, to the Riley County Commission.

County officials have for several years been concerned about space needs over the next two decades. Currently, county offices — including the county office building, the building housing the commission itself, the Carnegie building and the Riley County Courthouse — encompass 60,805 square feet of space. 

But in 20 years, the study estimates that the county will need around 111,322 square feet of space, a difference of 50,517 square feet.

One option is to renovate and upgrade facilities in the county office building and the building used by the commission. Hobson noted that a variety of improvements, such as lead, mold and asbestos removal, a new HVAC system and the installation of new fire alarms, would need to be done. He said modernizing the current building would cost around $3.8 million.

The second option, which would cost $3.2 million not counting land costs, would be to purchase the First Christian Church, adjacent to the current county office location, demolish that building and build new county office buildings. Hobson said the new offices would be operational, efficient, contextual to the site, sufficient and sustainable. The building would have 135,315 total square feet.

The plans include an 85-stall parking site on the site of the current county office building – which would be demolished – election equipment storage, areas for all offices currently in the county office building and commission building, an additional courtroom and space for court services.

Hobson said that having the long range plan will allow the county to determine different building purchases and construction and see how it will fit into the long term plan for the county.

There was some discussion between the department heads about the new location for court services and the courtroom in the second option. They cited questions on security, but county clerk Rich Vargo reminded them that the plans are not final.

“I don’t want people making land rights because of this,” Vargo said. “These plans can be changed.”

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