Architects hired by Benton and Franklin counties is recommending the most expensive of three options to improve the court and administrative portion of the bicounty Juvenile Justice Center.
The $8.85 million recommendation would replace the existing cramped courtroom with a two-story, 38,000-square-foot building featuring two new courtrooms and administration offices.
Representatives from Dyron Murphy Architects of Albuquerque, N.M., said construction on that option would require demolishing the existing 15,000-square-foot building but leaving in place the current detention area.
But additional costs, including leasing office space during construction, would push the total to nearly $10 million.
“It’s something the judges think is very important,” Benton-Franklin Superior Court Judge Cameron Mitchell told Franklin County commissioners Wednesday. “The folks in the juvenile system have been doing a great job in pretty rough conditions for a long time.”
The least expensive of the three options was about $1 million cheaper and would keep most of the existing building and add a new three-story, 24,000-square-foot facility on the existing six acres on West Canal Drive in Kennewick. Total cost would be $8.93 million.
“A million dollars today is not a great deal of money to get you a brand new, state-of-the-art courtroom and admin building,” said Richard Frederkind, senior architect with Dyron Murphy.
A third option would keep about 5,000 square feet of the existing building and add a two-story, 34,000-square-foot addition. Total cost would be about $9.5 million.
The Juvenile Justice Center was built in 1979. A new detention facility was added on its west end in 1996. The detention center is not part of the project.
The 36-year-old building has had few, if any, material changes since it was built, according to Dyron Murphy. The company said the interior is dated, aging and in need of repair or renovation.
The floor finishes are worn, restrooms don’t meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards and security that can be easily circumvented, said the firm. And some areas of the building cannot be reached by disabled people.
Other issues include that the judge’s chambers are visible from the parking lot and street and a law library has to double as a conference room, Dyron Murphy said.
The existing courtroom is small and is also not ADA accessible, the report said. Also, the building is considered energy inefficient.
“Today’s courthouses must be functional, flexible, affordable, secure and dignified with an abundance of natural light,” said a written presentation from the firm.
Officials from Dyron Murphy and the Juvenile Justice Center gave a similar presentation to Benton County commissioners. Commissioners for the two counties are expected to discuss their options in the coming weeks, though there is no money budgeted to pay for the facility.
Commission Chairman Brad Peck told Mitchell that they might need him to go to Olympia to seek some financial support.
Commissioners also questioned whether the new building would require hiring more staff. The center currently has 55 non-detention employees.
Officials said it doesn’t currently look like new positions would be needed.
“Just because I don’t see it right now, doesn’t mean it’s not there,” said Darryl Banks, the Juvenile Justice Center administrator.