Garfield County Commissioner Martin not so keen on move to Midland
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
One of Garfield County’s elected leaders thinks his two partners on the board are moving in the wrong direction in an effort to find a new home for three critical county departments.
County Commissioner John Martin said on Friday that he opposes a plan to purchase the 30,000 square foot Midland Center, an unfinished shell of a structure along Wulfsohn Road that originally was designed as a small shopping center.
The county currently is exploring whether the building will meet county needs [see related story] by providing office space for the county clerk, assessor and treasurer. The three departments are being squeezed out of the old courthouse by expansion of the Ninth Judicial District’s facilities, according to county officials.
Instead, Martin said, the county should concentrate on retaining key county offices in downtown Glenwood Springs, in keeping with the “walking community” concept recommended by planning consultants several years ago.
“The cost of the building itself might be $6 or $7 million,” Martin said of the Midland Center, “but in the long run [the cost will be] more like $9 million to $12 million.” Plus, he said, the county will need to pay to retrofit the old courthouse building for the expanded judicial facilities.
Martin believes that the county should look at the block to the east of the courthouse, between 8th and 7th streets along Colorado Avenue, some of which already is county-owned land. He believes that block should be used for a new “justice center” for the courts, judicial district and sheriff’s office.
This would allow the Board of County Commissioners to move their offices and meeting spaces back into the historic courthouse, he said, and leave the relatively new county administration building free to accommodate what officials expect will be growth in county government as the local population grows.
The Midland Center plan, Martin said, is favored by fellow commissioners Tresi Houpt and Mike Samson “because it’s the easiest and the fastest … they figure they could be in it in 11 months, 12 months.”
Martin’s idea, he admits, would take longer, but he insists the Midland Center building “had too many problems,” including a leaky roof, lack of stairwells and elevator shafts that would be needed for county offices.
“It’s in the wrong location, it’s the wrong approach,” he said.
But, Martin added, “I’m on the short end of the stick on that one.”
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