MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Commissioners told architects Friday that they do not want to spend more than $3 million on the project to renovate the courthouse plaza.
The board met with representatives of Garmann Miller Architects on Tuesday to review a new design for the project, which could cost between $3.5 million and $3.7 million. Earlier proposals ranged in cost from $1.6 million to $3.2 million.
“I don’t like over $3 million,” Commissioner Greg Simmons said, adding that, with alternate additions, the work could be close to $4 million. “I’m a little apprehensive about that. Even at $3 million, I still want to take it out to the public and make sure they’re OK with that, too.”
On Friday, the group from Garmann Miller presented the board with a list of cost projections. The total construction cost estimate was listed at $2.99 million, but did not include all of the alternate options.
The design includes the removal of two fountains between the 1880s courthouse and the 1970s Safety Building and the construction of one new fountain in front of the courthouse at an estimated cost of $440,900.
The project will address issues with uneven walkways and with underground utilities, filling in tunnels underneath the plaza with the exception of the pedestrian tunnel between the courthouse and the Safety Building.
The proposal also included new lighting, relocating the county’s law enforcement memorial, concrete walkways, bricks that reflect the patterned floors of the courthouse, and new landscaping. Current trees would be saved if possible or replaced.
Kathy Trejo of Garmann Miller told the commissioners that the architects and engineers need to know what the county’s budget is in order to make cost-saving alterations.
“We really need to know what you want your budget to be, so that we have something to get to instead of just cutting,” she said. “If you want to cut, we need to know what we’re cutting to.”
The commissioners agreed on $3 million as a target cost for the project.
Trejo said part of the cost increase was the addition of waterproofing work around the foundation of the courthouse. The board also agreed that the waterproofing work, which would require some digging around the courthouse, should be completed while the plaza is being excavated for the renovation.
“You’d be crazy not to,” Commissioner Jack Evans said, referring to doing the excavation.
The board discussed options for reducing the cost of the project, like forgoing the installation of a heated sidewalk system and swapping out pavers for concrete in some spots. Commissioner Ted Mercer said heated sidewalks — at an estimated cost of about $167,000 — are a great idea, but not necessary.
Trejo said that revisions at this point in the process will slow the project down, but added, “Maybe we don’t want to rush.”
“I’m not saying it can’t change, because obviously everything is still on paper, but it will take time and we will not be able to move forward immediately with bid documents,” she said.
Chris Johnson, director of operations and facilities for the county, said he’s not sure the project can “realistically” be completed in 2019.
Trejo said there are options for completing the work in phases.
The board is planning public meetings to gather feedback about the project from the community for Feb. 20. Times and location will be announced.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.