Kitsap County is sizing up a potential new courthouse, asking experts to help outline a project that would replace the county’s current aging structure.
The county last week published a call out to consultants for a feasibility study. The study is a “sizing exercise,” County Administrator Karen Goon said, and will give county officials a better idea of how much space is needed for a new courthouse and much the project might cost.
“This is something that’s kind of been on radar for quite some time,” Goon said.
Officials said they don’t have a cost estimate for the project, but it would likely be more than the $26 million the county paid to build a new administration building in 2006.
The current courthouse on Division Street was built in 1935, and has been renovated multiple times since, including the addition of a wing for the Sheriff’s Office in 1971.
County officials say they’ve outgrown the aging building, which has an inefficient design thanks to the multiple remodels along with myriad maintenance issues.
The study will aim to answer how much space the county would need to fit each department in a new building, where it would be located, and preliminary cost estimates and designs.
Kitsap County Superior and District Courts have offices in the courthouse, along with the county clerk and public defender’s office. The courthouse also houses the county’s law library and information services department. Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office is in a wing on the west side of the building.
Like the administration building, the county would pay for a new courthouse with funds from real estate excise taxes, according to county Administrative Services Director Amber D’Amato.
Officials decided to build an administration building in 2006 before replacing the aging courthouse. Following the recession in 2008, officials are now feeling comfortable enough to test the waters.
“We're just really trying to take one step at a time, and step is to learn what options might be in front of us,” Commissioner Charlotte Garrido said.
But the study doesn’t guarantee the county will go forward with the plan. If the cost of building a new court house turns out to be prohibitive, Goon said they may look at additional remodels.
“It's a large project, one we want to take a very methodical approach to, because we know people are going to have to get comfortable with the idea,” Goon said.
The deadline for submitting a proposal is August 24. The county hopes to have a consultant hired by December and begin the study in January.