Christopher Rosacker
crosacker@theunion.com

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May 7, 2013
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City Manager: Nevada City can't fund courthouse study alone


While the Nevada City Council will be asked to contribute toward a $94,000 feasibility and cost engineering study of the county courthouse at its meeting tonight, the town’s city manager said it cannot fund it entirely.

“Because it is in Nevada City, we are taking the lead in raising the issue and trying to keep the project moving forward,” said City Manager David Brennan. “But we’re not in position to pay $94,000. We don’t own the building, it is owned by the courts and the county.”

Brennan did note that unspecified parties have been approached about contributing toward the study, but none have committed funds yet.

Plans to rebuild or revamp the 140-year-old Nevada County Courthouse were indefinitely postponed in January during Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget process that saw funds diverted from courthouse construction projects. Rather than wait for funds to becomes available, the Nevada City Courthouse Committee argued that independently funding the feasibility study will make the project more attractive should funding become available.

“Funding will become available. It is just a matter of when,” Brennan said.

The courthouse committee has proposed that Michael Ross and Associates conduct the study because the firm has performed work for the Administrative Office of the Courts.

“If he does this study, it will be as if the Judicial Council did the study themselves,” Brennan said.

Ross’ firm would first hold a meeting to determine goals and a schedule of the feasibility study, with stakeholders such as Nevada County, the city and the community. To facilitate this first task, Ross estimates it will cost almost $5,000, according to an estimate he submitted to City Engineer Bill Falconi.

Secondly, Ross’ team would request, compile and review all planning documents, project studies and dozens of other related documents into an analysis.

Ross estimates this task will cost less than $5,000, according to the proposal.

Once that task is completed, Ross’ team estimates that it will need to facilitate and coordinate at least five meetings with representatives from the Nevada City and county agencies, the AOC and local court representatives. Ross estimates that will cost more than $11,500.

The fourth task is the most expensive: For $34,840, Ross’ team will employ structural and mechanical engineers to visit the courthouse, monitor its operations and review its conditions to craft a building survey report.

Ross’ team would then test-fit a typical courthouse plan on the existing site for an estimated nearly $10,000. They would produce not only a diagram of a courthouse renovation, but also for a whole new construction project, as well as a preliminary construction phasing plan.

“(T)he purpose of this study shall be made up of the area covered by the existing historic courthouse and the courthouse annex,” Ross wrote to Falconi. “The concept plans may include an option that includes the adjacent corner lot bordered by Winter Street, Washington Street and Main Street.”

The firm would also develop a temporary courthouse plan to be employed during construction for a cost of more than $6,000.

The last task Ross’ firm would complete would be to develop a comparative cost study for the existing courthouse site versus building a whole new courthouse at a new site. This component would cost nearly $20,000 to complete, Ross said. Ross also outlined nearly $4,000 in office and traveling expenses for the $94,077 proposed project total, which he estimated would take no more than four months to complete.

“We’re pretty optimistic at this stage,” Brennan said. “The study has to be done, and it’s better to do it now.”

Council will consider this item, as well as others, at its Wednesday meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. at Nevada City Hall, located at 317 Broad St.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4236.


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The Union Updated May 7, 2013 11:30PM Published May 9, 2013 09:03AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.