Douglas Commissioners asked to approve land purchase for new judicial center

Kurt Hildebrand
Record Courier

When the Judicial & Law Enforcement Center was built 40 years ago, there were only 19,400 people living in Douglas County.

Then Sheriff Jerry Maple was justly proud of the 40,000-square-foot building, which was designed to be able to increase capacity over 20 years to match the county’s growth.

Some 30,000 residents later, every square inch of the building has been pressed into service.

In addition of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, it is also home to the jail, three courtrooms, the Constable’s Office, Juvenile Probation and the District Attorney’s Office.

The county balked at a 2015 proposal that called for renovating the building and adding another 46,000 square feet, in addition to a parking garage, at a price tag of $47.3 million.

On Thursday, county commissioners are being asked to sign off on a plan to purchase $5 million in land and build a separate $41.48 million judicial building that would come in at $1 million less than the previous estimate.

County officials propose buying 57 acres from Park Ranch Holdings located north of Buckeye Road near the Town of Minden’s maintenance facility.

Buying the land was approved in the capital improvement plan and $4 million included in the 2021-22 adopted budget.

“This is more land than needed to construct a judicial building,” County Manager Patrick Cates said in a report. “However, this provides a rare opportunity to acquire land in a prime location for future county facilities.”

Cates also pointed out that several other entities have expressed an interest in the property in the future, including Minden and the East Fork Fire Protection District.

County officials are seeking an additional $500,000 from the general fund and to transfer another $500,000 within the county construction fund to purchase the land.

Chief Financial Officer Terri Willoughby said that funding would be made up from the Martin Slough trail project, that was made up due to additional grant funding.

Building a new judicial center on the property would be financed over 30 years.

Under the current plan, the Sheriff’s Office and jail would remain in the center. The jail was renovated a dozen years ago and is still within capacity.

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