With three-story buildings quickly rising on either side of Laurel Street in downtown Brainerd, the Crow Wing County government complex is changing the landscape.
Unseasonably warm winter weather created balmy working conditions for crews.
Of the two taller buildings being constructed, the Community Services Building will be in use first. The building will house public health, child support, RSVP, veterans services, the WorkForce Center and social services. The county expects to move into the facility in late 2005.
A one-story central services building next to the Community Services structure is expected to be ready in May. The building, which houses the county's heating plant, includes offices for the county's facilities and parks director, maintenance, information services and purchasing.
The new jail and Judicial Center are not expected to be occupied until late 2006. The new jail should be substantially complete by September 2006. The Judicial Center should be ready shortly before that time.
The Judicial Center has judges chambers set on the second floor. The county attorney will be on the third floor along with the family and juvenile courtrooms. The jail has three housing units with 60 beds each and an alternative plan calls for a fourth housing unit with Cass County joining the project. By itself, the jail is expected to cost $18 million with Cass County's portion for the additional wing anticipated at $2 million. Cass County officials have expressed favorable reactions to the plan so far and are expected to vote on the issue Feb. 15.
Next week Crow Wing County officials will meet for a planning session on remodeling efforts at the existing courthouse and the Service Building behind it. The Service Building now houses social services, courtrooms and the county attorney's office, among others. When the final building plan was approved, commissioners decided to postpone a new Law Enforcement Center, which had been proposed along with the new jail. Long-term plans include an option to build a LEC next to the new jail.
The highway department moved out of downtown Brainerd. The county has plans for several highway department buildings, at a total cost of $3.9 million, at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport. Currently the highway department office is in temporary space at 611 Oak Place, across from the Brainerd Family YMCA. The county's solid waste department moved into a new building at the county landfill on Highway 210, six miles east of Brainerd.
The county's campus building project is expected to meet needs for the next 20 to 25 years and includes future expansion options. When the project was first proposed, county officials noted the prediction for the county's population to double in the next two decades was a driving need behind the project. The county had 449 employees in 2003 and it is estimated that it will have 738 employees in 2025, which excludes jail employees.
The entire Crow Wing County government campus project is expected to cost $51 million, which includes $2 million the county expects to save in maintenance for buildings that will be demolished.
RENEE RICHARDSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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