Courthouse won’t need sprinklers

The remodeling of the Kitsap County Courthouse into a law and justice center will probably not require the installation of an expensive sprinkler system as long as the county sticks to the current plans it has already shared with the city of Port Orchard.

“I don’t think there will be any barriers from our perspective,” said South Kitsap Fire and Rescue Prevention Manager Greg Rogers. “The plans we saw weren’t that drastic.”

The county will move all offices, aside from court-related functions, into its new administration building sometime this spring. At that point, the old building will be renovated in order to house court-related services, in anticipation of the construction of a new law and justice center by 2011.

If the renovation exceeds a certain level of complexity, the fire inspector would require the installation of a sprinkler system, which could increase the project’s cost by $400,000, making it cost-prohibitive.

Since the building has weathered several different renovations, any upgrade will not last more than five years.

The next step is for the county to meet with fire marshals and the city of Port Orchard. Facilities, Parks and Recreation Director Mark Mauren said this meeting would probably occur in the next two weeks.

“We want to make it safe and functional,” Mauren said. “We’re not trying to do anything flashy.”

The county was involved in a protracted battle with Port Orchard over temporary parking lots last year. At the time, the city blamed the delay on the county’s revision of its requests.

No decision is possible until the county submits its final plan, which Mauren said is now being developed.

The most drastic aspect of the preliminary plan is construction of a new courtroom in the space now occupied by the prosecuting attorney.

Otherwise, the renovations consist mostly of moving walls and making cosmetic changes to accommodate the new occupants. For instance, the Prosecutor’s Office will take over the space now held by the assessor and the Department of Community Development.

The move and renovation will begin in late spring, since it depends on completion of the new administration building — a date most recently delayed when the building failed a test of its heating system.

County officials are by now accustomed to these delays.

“I want to get into the new building as much as anyone,” said North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen. “But I want it to be done right.”

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