Recommendations for better use of courthouse space amount to $ 1.18 million

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A study on how to make better use of Reno County courthouse space and expand county commission chambers recommends $ 1.183 million changes to four floors of the historic building.

Wichita’s GLMV Architecture proposal was briefly presented to the Reno County commission on Tuesday as part of a discussion of a five-year spending plan for the capital improvement project.

The study was authorized earlier this year, during a Reno County commission retreat, to seek better ways to use the open space on the cavernous ground floor, which had remained vacant when the Most of the county offices moved almost five years ago.

The details were part of the commission’s meeting record, and this was the first time the commission had seen them, the commission said Ron Sellers. The board deferred discussion of the proposal to subsequent board meetings.

This drawing shows the proposed second floor walkway that would be attached to the west wall inside the courthouse, connecting the two mezzanine areas of the building.  The northern half would be converted into offices and laboratories for the IT department.

New Gateway

Among the proposed developments is the construction of a new steel and concrete walkway along the interior west wall of the rotunda.

It would connect the second-floor legal aid office and a proposed new conference room in the southwest corner of the building to the now unused mezzanine on the north side of the building that previously housed the storage of property registration books.

“Supported by steel brackets and structural steel columns anchored into the existing wall,” the walkway, needed to create a secondary escape route on both sides of the mezzanine, would cost nearly $ 130,000, according to details of the committee’s agenda.

This plan also includes the conversion of this north mezzanine into space for the IT department, including a computer lab, as shown in the drawings. Details show a $ 22,000 Obeya wall outline for the region.

This drawing by GLMV Architecture of Wichita shows the proposed meeting space for the county commission in the center of the courthouse rotunda and the conversion of the current meeting space into new offices.

Commission meeting room

The plan also includes $ 182,000 to build a new 45-seat Commission chamber in the center of the open ground floor of the courthouse, in an area that once housed parts of the offices of the county registrar and treasurer.

The room would be created using prefabricated partial walls 10 feet high and a baffle ceiling manufactured by DIRTT Environmental.

The plan also includes converting the existing committee meeting room and county administrator’s office into five offices and a closed “deliberation room”.

These drawings show the fifth floor area of ​​the courthouse that once housed the county jail and is now storage space converted into additional office space for the Reno County District Attorney's office.

Other floors

Other projects included in the plan are to convert storage space on the fifth floor – which housed the original county jail decades ago – into half a dozen additional offices for the district attorney’s office. , as well as improved file storage and a conference room.

In addition, the southeast corner of the fourth floor would become three other offices.

Upstairs conversions are estimated to be over $ 438,000.

However, to make them will also require constructing a pair of new stairwells with fire doors along the north side of the building, connecting the third, fourth and fifth floors.

This would create a side exit to attempt to comply with current fire codes, although the plan does not quite comply with the code and would require a waiver from the city, a note from the designers said.

The only recommended change to the third floor is the addition of a fire door on the back staircase.

Other costs

The proposal includes more than $ 200,000 to furnish the new spaces, but it does not include other elements of the courthouse that will need to be addressed in the years to come, Partington noted in his note to the agenda. .

Any changes should also be approved by the State Historic Preservation Office.

Commissioner Ron Sellers said he had no problem including the funding in the budget, but was not ready to approve courthouse spending.

“Since we had this study session, we have not talked about the relevance of doing this project,” he said. “I guess I don’t have a problem budgeting it, but I think we need to have a detailed study session on what we’re getting for this allowance before we commit to it. I certainly don’t want to put it in the budget and say it’s approved. I don’t know what the $ 1.1 million is for.

Partington said the study’s completion schedule should include its projected cost in the budget “as a placeholder,” in case the committee wishes to move forward next year.

Chairs are lined up in the interior space of the Reno County Courthouse where people can socially distance themselves and watch a live broadcast when Reno County Commission meetings are held.  The space was also used to select people for jury duty during the pandemic.

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