County courthouse could be demolished, replaced

The long-delayed Kitsap County Administration Building, which at one point was scheduled to open its doors this past Columbus Day, has caused county government to re-examine all it options for the space.

One of these options being considered, according to Facilities, Parks and Recreation Director Mark Mauren, is to build an entirely new structure for the courts and then destroy the existing building.

Currently, the new building is expected to accommodate county offices in March.

Or not.

“We think that at the speed the contractor is performing and the speed at which they are currently working, it will be complete in mid-March,”  Mauren said “But we can’t say for sure.”

Mauren said the contractor, Swinerton Builders of Bellevue, has added extra workers in order to finish the project. The contract, however, allows Kitsap County to assess penalties if construction is not complete by Jan. 29. Mauren said the county will have the option to assess those penalties but would not say if it would do so.

Once the building is completed, however, the county’s attention will turn to the renovation of the current administration building, which will house the judges, prosecuting attorney, and Sheriff’s Office.

The $6 million renovation project was scheduled to begin in early 2006 and take one year, but the new building’s delay has caused the remodeling’s cost to double and has prompted the county to explore different options.

One of those options, according to Mauren, is to build a new structure to house the courts and then knock down the current structure.

The original structure was built in Port Orchard in 1903. Mauren said it has already weathered seven renovations and remodelings.

“We’re looking for different ways to deal with the increase in needs by the courts system brought about by the rise in crime and population,” Mauren said.

The remodel would accommodate chambers for additional judges for both Superior and District Court. Mauren said an extra need may occur after the construction of the new Poulsbo Municipal Campus, which may not include room for the court that currently operates in that facility.

Of the current options, a new building could be constructed in the newly opened parking lot behind the jail. After its completion, the current site could be a park, a parking garage or a combination thereof, Mauren said.

“There are a lot of different options,” Mauren said. “Nothing is definite and it won’t be until we bring some of these proposals before the commissioners.”

Mauren said he planned to present all options to the commissioners in early 2006. The new building will house the commissioners, auditor, assessor, community development, treasurer and administrative services.

The clerk, Municipal Court, District Court and sheriff will occupy the remodeled — or rebuilt — building.

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