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Waukesha County, City Look at Combining Buildings

Waukesha County is funding a $250,000 study to review the space needs at the Waukesha County Courthouse.

With Waukesha County looking into its spacing needs at the courthouse, the City of Waukesha could get involved for one joint project.

It’s only an idea at this point, but with the completion of a space needs analysis at City Hall and with the county beginning to look at space situation, City Administrator Ed Henschel said he thinks there could be a way for collaboration with the county.

The consultants for Bray Architects, which conducted the city’s space needs analysis, wrapped up its review of City Hall in October. City Hall was built in 1966 and the possibilities of remodeling, rebuilding or remodeling the building would come at a high cost to the city.

“By sheer coincidence, the same day that Bray submitted their report, I was meeting with the county executive, who mentioned to me that the county was going to be conducting a space needs analysis or site plan for the remodeling or the construction of the current courthouse,” Henschel said.

With capital projects coming in at a high price, Henschel said he was “very hard pressed to imagine that we would be able to build a stand-alone new City Hall” or even fund major renovations or remodel costs for the current building. But working with the county could keep some of those costs from property taxes and could also keep additional property from coming off the tax rolls.

“We have had a couple of discussion with the county since then,” Henschel said. “They apparently have concluded that it is an idea at least worth pursuing.”

“Waukesha County and City of Waukesha wish to pursue a design option to combine county and city operations in one facility,” states a county request for proposal document. “This ‘alternate’ will also require a well thought out and detailed presentation as to how the existing courthouse will function in its present location during a renovation or reconstruction of a new courthouse, and will also include selection of a site on county grounds to design and construct this facility.”

Waukesha County is seeking proposals from consultants to conduct a study that would review the following components for the county courthouse:

  • Review a 2002 study for the jail and secured courts;
  • Remodel existing courthouse;
  • Space program for courthouse;
  • Renovation of existing courthouse;
  • Construction of a new courthouse; and
  • Construction of a shared city/county facility (alternate)

Waukesha County’s 2013 budget includes a $250,000 expenditure to review the courthouse space needs. The space needs analysis has been planned for years and follows the construction of a new Health and Human Services Department building, a project that is coming in under budget.

“The purpose of this study is to determine whether Waukesha County’s resources are best spent in remodeling or renovating the existing courthouse; or constructing a new facility,” states the county’s document. “Furthermore, the study will investigate the issue of temporary housing for staff in all scenarios, as well as continuing essential courts and all other related functions. The decision to construct a new facility, remodel or renovate the existing courthouse will impact the function of day-to-day courthouse operations.”

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