County OKs build out
Douglas County is getting into the rental market - as a landlord. The county board last week approved building out vacant space in the Government Center to house the state's probation and parole, and state public defender's offices. Kraus-Anderso...
Douglas County is getting into the rental market - as a landlord.
The county board last week approved building out vacant space in the Government Center to house the state's probation and parole, and state public defender's offices.
Kraus-Anderson Construction Co. of Duluth submitted the low bid of $482,999 for the construction project that will convert 7,800 square feet of space - once designated for a secure courtroom - into office space to meet the specifications of the Wisconsin Department of Administration.
"At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I would be remiss as a judge if I didn't become here on behalf of myself and Judge (George) Glonek and the court system as a whole to express our concern about using that space for any other purpose - other than its primary purpose was," said Judge Michael Lucci.
When the Government Center was originally constructed, the county's intent was to build a secure courtroom with direct access to the jail. Rising costs for the $44 million project prompted the county board to delay build out of the courtroom.
Lucci said the move could also jeopardize the county's ability to get a third judge, a need determined to exist when the Government Center was still under construction.
The judge said while he understands the state's desire to relocate closer to the courthouse, he said the space will never be used as it was originally intended, which compromises security.
"I think it's a risky business to put revenue above security," Lucci said. "... We've been fortunate that we've never had a bad incident, but we want to be proactive about security. We don't want to react to something bad that happens, a tragedy."
And it's another tragedy that could become visible in Superior's downtown,
Owners of the building where probation and parole is currently located said they would vacate the building and shut it down without its anchor tenant.
For Superior Stoveworks, owned by Rick Gran, it means relocating, said Ryan Hartshorn, an employee of the company. He said while he understands the state agency wants to move, there are still issues that haven't been addressed, such as parking at the Government Center, which can be problematic at times.
"We presume that a state that's $6 billion in the hole is going to reimburse you for 200-grand," he said. "For folks who didn't understand, that's why there were tea parties - to protest government spending for the sake of government spending."