Volume 105, Number 36 - September 4, 2008
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County looking at future infrastructure
The Sublette County Commission has given the go-ahead for a team of architects and engineers to perform a county needs assessment for infrastructure.
“It will just be totally a planning thing,” County Clerk Mary Lankford said. “They will be doing space planning and facilities planning.”
Brad Waters of Providence Architecture Inc. will lead the group in assessing the needs of the county, forecasting into 2020 and beyond.
“I’ve personally been working on the county with this project for almost 10 years now,” Waters said. “When we started back in 1999 nobody saw the gas boom coming.”
The initial planning accounted for the current look of the courthouse complex. “As it turned out, before we could get done with it, the boom hit and we basically outgrew this building before it was completed,” Waters said. “We’re basically working on the next step, which would be to relocate some of the people from this complex off-site, so then we could actually expand the other people busting at the seams here into the space that’s vacated.”
The team will look at assessing the space needs of the County Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, Circuit Court, District Court and the other various offices that help service the county.
“Our jail is only half full, but it’s the administrative part of that whole piece that’s having problems,” Lankford said.
Waters agreed that the Sheriff’s Office was most in need of space, but he noted plenty of offices that were crammed in. The County Treasurer’s office has five or six people within just an 800-square-foot space.
“That’s been an explosion of sales tax and all sorts of things that have led to their growth,” Waters added.
Any space assessment may involve various movements of different entities between different facilities, much like a “domino effect.”
The county has begun to accumulate new land for possible future expansion. The land that the County Attorney’s Office comprises is a possibility for a new two-story, 30,000-square-foot building. The county recently bought 75 acres for about $1.3 million near the Pinedale Sewer Lagoon and 40 acres near the intersection of Pole Creek Road and Highway 191 for $700,000. Those sites can now be considered for future space concerns.
“We want to avoid what happened when we got blindsided by the gas boom,” Waters said. “We don’t want to finish a project and have it be outgrown before we finish it. We’re always looking 20 years down the road.”
Waters and his team will be interviewing and compiling data on all affected offices and speaking with the Economic Resource Group to get a better grasp on what needs the county will have because of the energy industry. Spreadsheets will help project in fiveyear intervals into the future.
“We actually interview the staffs and talk to them at length,” Waters said.
In the end, Waters will make a presentation to the commissioners during their first meeting in October that will “determine a ‘turn key’ budget for [the] project, including construction cost, furnishings and equipment, moving costs, design fees and expenses, administrative costs, escalation, etc,” according to the planning papers.
After that, it will be up to the commission as to where to take the project. More than likely, any major construction would be far off in the horizon.
“We don’t have any funding to do any of this stuff, as far as breaking ground and starting to build,” Lankford said.
The county is spending $70,000 on the assessment. “We’re trying to determine how much land we need to plan for that 20-year growth and to make sure the county acquires the land at least, if nothing else,” Waters said.
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