Cape County commissioners open proposals for courthouse study

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
The Common Pleas Courthouse in downtown Cape Girardeau is one of two county courthouses being studied for possible consolidation. (Fred Lynch)

Five architecture firms entered the running Monday to provide Cape Girardeau County with a look at future possibilities for courthouse and administrative facilities needs.

County commissioners released the names of the firms that submitted proposals during its regular meeting but did not provide any details from the proposals.

In March, commissioners approved advertising for firms to create proposals that would show scenarios for how the county can address problems of aging structures and a lack of space in the Common Pleas Courthouse in Cape Girardeau and Cape Girardeau County Courthouse and administrative building in Jackson. The proposals were asked to contain options for the county to consider while making long-term plans for administrative and court operations. One option would show how to maximize space in current facilities. Another would outline plans for a new consolidated courthouse.

Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy has said what course the county pursues will depend on which option seems most feasible following a review of the proposals.

The county asked for proposals from firms with specific expertise in helping government entities create effective court structures.

The firms that submitted proposals are Dille & Traxel Architects of Poplar Bluff, Mo., for Strickland Engineering of Jackson; Treanor Architects of St. Louis; Image Architects of Carbondale, Ill.; White & Borgogoni Architects of St. Louis and Carbondale, Ill.; and Goldberg, Sullivan and McCrerey Architects and Planners of St. Joseph, Mo.

The county will spend about three weeks examining the proposals, according to Commissioner Paul Koeper, before taking any action to negotiate a contract for services. Contents of proposals fall in the category of records pertaining to legal action of the commission, and are therefore protected from disclosure by a section of the Missouri Sunshine Law, commissioners said. Responses by the commission to the proposals will become public record following the execution of a contract.

Koeper thanked representatives of the firms who attended Monday's meeting and said commissioners would be analyzing what options "will carry us into the future."

Commissioners have said since discussion of possible improvements to facilities began that several options for funding projects exist, including using $150,000 saved from refinancing of county jail bonds in October. Commissioner Jay Purcell has also said that cuts to county expenses during the past four years through staff reduction and stopping duplication of services by consolidating facilities in the future could eventually produce a significant amount to help finance construction of a new courthouse if money saved by the cuts were leveraged into bonds.

A "stopgap" measure for providing more space for county services by purchasing the former federal building on Broadway in Cape Girardeau was also attempted by the commission in an online auction earlier this year. The county later had another chance to buy the building from the auction winner, RDRH Holdings Inc. president Majid Hemmasi, but passed on his $525,000 asking price. Hemmasi recently put the building back on the market with a $1 million asking price.

Tracy said a decision about the county buying the building was postponed because commissioners want to see if architects' proposals show it makes sense to include it as part of the county's long-range plans.

Commissioners also approved referring bids from five companies for structural steel for a park shelter to the county parks department for review. A discussion of the purchase of crime coverage insurance scheduled to take place between commissioners and Collector Diane Diebold was postponed because Diebold was unable to attend the meeting. The discussion will be rescheduled for a later meeting date.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

1 Barton Square, Jackson, MO

44 N. Lorimier St., Cape Girardeau, MO

100 Court St., Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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