Alpine debates construction of government center
June 28, 2012
A Board of Supervisors meeting was held on the evening of June 4 with a presentation and discussion on the Alpine County Government Center plans prepared by Collaborative Design Studio. The purpose of the meeting was to inform the public and elicit input.
Community Development Director Brian Peters introduced Collaborative Design Studio Managing Partner Todd Lankenau and Facilities Planner Jim Steinmann.
Lankenau explained the background of the facilities assessment and master plan study, reasons to consider building now, the preliminary direction given by supervisors and the improvements divided into three phases.
In 1983 South Tahoe Utilities District agreed to make annual mitigation payments of $110,000 annually (now grown to approximately $112,000 a year) to Alpine County for the disposal of effluent. There is now approximately $3.6 million in the mitigation fund.
In 1999 a board of supervisors resolution established that “responsible financing of infrastructure and capital facilities is a valid and appropriate use of STPUD resources.”
In 2003 the county purchased the Gard property directly north of the Administration Building parking lot intending to build a new sheriff’s facility on the site. TRG Consulting produced a cost analysis and plans for the project.
In 2011 OSHA informed Alpine County that their division had received a complaint about the sheriff’s department stating that “Employees work in a cramped and unsafe environment.”
Sheriff John Crawford agreed to move most of his staff to Turtle Rock Park as a temporary measure. The sheriff and dispatch continue to operate from the lower floor of the Court House.
The Alpine County grand jury then documented the following findings:
n Alpine County does not provide secure interview/interrogation rooms within the county, thereby risking safety and the integrity of investigations.
n Alpine County does not provide temporary holding facilities within the county, thereby risking safety and costing manpower during the justice process.
The sheriff’s department, district attorney and chief of probation agreed with the grand jury’s findings and recommendations.
In 2011-2012 Collaborative Design Studio performed an assessment and master plan study of all county facilities. Lakenau presented alternative recommendations to the Board of Supervisors which gave the following preliminary direction:
Consolidate the Sheriff at the Markleeville site.
Consolidate Community development at the Woodfords site.
Consider sharing the courtroom for board meetings.
Lankenau gave the following reasons for building now:
Correct outstanding safety concerns.
Address OSHA compliance issues.
Correct deficiencies itemized in the Grand Jury report.
Correct ADA deficiencies to provide disabled access.
Address deferred maintenance issues in the Administration Building.
Remedy the lack of storage space.
Take advantage of favorable bidding climate.
Take advantage of historically low interest rates.
Lankenau reviewed the phases:
A – Site improvements, including more parking.
B – Construction of new sheriff’s facility (this would be approximately 4,000 square feet, almost half the size of what was suggested in the 2003 plans).
C – remodel the Administration Building.
Phase 2. Remodel the lower floor of the Courthouse for district attorney and records storage and construct an addition to community development.
Phase 3. Board Room, conference room and rest room addition.
Lankenau discussed the pros and cons and a proposed budget and financing plan for each phase.
Following Lakenau’s presentation the floor was open to the public. Sandy Bryson advocated exploring grant sources.
Judge Devore and Sheriff John Crawford stressed the importance of the Sheriff’s Department being next to the courts for the safety of all concerned.
Crawford voiced doubts about spending the county’s reserves at a time when he may have to lay off deputies because of budget cuts. John Super raised the popular question: Will those working on the project be sleeping and eating here?
An undertaking of this size could help the local economy. Some wondered whether locals would be employed. Gary Coyan asked what we’re saving the money for; it has been identified for facilities’ needs.
Nick Hartzell regretted that affordable housing (the duplex behind Markleeville Art Gallery) would be torn down when the county offers little of such accommodations to county workers, school teachers etc.
Planner Zach Wood requested that there be an awareness of the natural beauty of the site in the placement of the windows indicating that such planning would have a positive influence on the downtown area.
Andy Lovell raised the possibility of archives moving to the location the district attorney would be vacating and the library taking over the space archives currently occupies. It was noted that this is in the master plan for consideration. Kathy Rakow suggested holding more workshops.
Many others contributed to the lively and stimulating discussion.
Further presentation and discussion on the project with direction from supervisors is tentatively scheduled for a July 17 meeting.