Nevada City moves forward alone on courthouse feasibility study
March 27, 2014
Nevada City is one step closer to keeping the historic courthouse in its current location at 201 Church Street.
The renovation of the courthouse was put on indefinite delay by the state in January 2013, and remains in limbo to date.
Earlier this month, the city approved a $32,000 contract with Ross, Drulis, Cusenbery Architecture, Inc., (RDC) to coordinate meetings, gather data and identify any "fatal flaw" costs that could make the renovation too expensive.
RDC will also evaluate the current site to ensure that the size of the buildings is adequate to accommodate necessary renovations.
“As to looking for funding (from) the county and other entities, I think that’s something we’ll kick off when the preliminary study is completed.”
Nevada County Courthouse Committee chairman
"Staff contacted (RDC) because of the firm's vast experience in overseeing the design and preparation of designs for courthouses for the State Administrative Office of the Court's construction program," wrote Nevada City Manager David Brennan in a staff report to the council.
Paul Matson, chairman of the Nevada County Courthouse Committee, says that RDC is held in such high esteem by the state's Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) that their findings will be treated as if the AOC had funded the report themselves.
"It will have the same credibility as if it were their own study," Matson told The Union.
The renovation would likely involve expansion, seismic stabilization and updates to the building's security systems.
If that part of the study finds that the project can be completed within current cost estimates of roughly $40 million, it may be more feasible to convince the state to take Nevada County's courthouse off the list of indefinitely delayed projects.
Keeping it in the current, historic location is thought to be important to the economic health of Nevada City's downtown business community. The large number of public employees at the courthouse, as well as the attorneys that keep offices in the downtown area due to its proximity to the courthouse, are believed to have a positive impact on small businesses nearby.
"That all adds up to a lot of vitality, both economic and intellectual, for the city of Nevada City," Matson said. "The restaurant trade comes up frequently, but that's just one little element."
Numerous letters of support have been received from local organizations. The list includes the Nevada County Contractor's Association, Nevada County Economic Resource Council, Nevada County Historical Society and several local chambers of commerce.
Still, Nevada City has been unable to secure commitments to help fund the project from other local agencies.
"As to looking for funding (from) the county and other entities, I think that's something we'll kick off when the preliminary study is completed," Matson said. "In the meantime, we are asking for private party help to offset the city's costs on this first round."
Of the $32,000 used to fund the RDC contract, $30,000 came from the revenue generated by the Measure L sales tax. The remaining $2,000 was raised from other sources.
To contact staff writer Dave Brooksher, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.
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