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Supes to ask city about federal courthouse

The Linn County Board of Supervisors said they will send a letter to the city on Friday asking if the federal courthouse on First Avenue East will be available as a “potential location” for the juvenile courts system.

Juvenile courts were permanently driven out of the basement of the Linn County Courthouse by last year’s flood, and the supervisors are looking around for a place to put them.

The federal courthouse, which was also damaged in the flood, will come under the city’s control as part of a land swap to give land for a new federal courthouse to the federal government.

The federal courthouse does not appear to be the county’s first choice for juvenile courts, but the supervisors are sending the letter regardless, despite having bowed out of a joint long-term planning process with the city.

“I don’t want the federal courthouse,” Supervisor Brent Oleson said. “It’s 80,000 square feet and it’s on the river. It’s too big.”

Supervisors toured the courthouse earlier in the spring, and were disappointed to find that the federal government left the mechanicals of the building in the basement when it did repairs.

Supervisor Jim Houser, though, pointed out that the building is attractive to the court system because it’s close to the county courthouse, already has courtrooms in it and offers room for expansion, which the courts need.

The supervisors will send the letter in an effort, at very least, to “dispose of options” that might be brought up in the public sphere over the next few months.

Their first choice right now is to build a new juvenile courts building on the site of the Freeway Lounge on Eighth Avenue SW. The county owns the space, and will get an engineering firm to do a feasibility study to see if a juvenile courts building will fit there. Results should be back by next week.

Filed under: County Government

2 Responses

  1. Dee Lish says:

    It may be too big to use just for juvenile probation, but what about putting some adult probation offices there? The current site on 6th/29th is not convient to people who struggle with transporation issues. Having a downtown location might make it somewhat easier for probation/parole to schedule meetings with clients who have transportation issues.
    Whoever thought 6th/29th was a good location for an agency that deals with people who are more likely to have transportation issues should have to take the city bus to work there every day for a year. Then maybe they’d have more empathy for their clients.
    And, no, neither I nor anyone in my close circle of friends and family is on probation or parole in Linn County.
    I sure hope the federal courthouse does get put to use. It’s a decent building, even if it is too small for federal court and is on the river. If IT/files, etc. are kept on second floor and higher, flooding shouldn’t be as devastating to the building occupants.

  2. Brady Dorman says:

    Due to historical status, a majority of the old federal courthouse cannot be altered – therefor it must remain set up as courtrooms and cannot really be developed into anything thing else. The obvious – and, really, only suitable future use for this building would be as a courthouse, which the county is in need of additional space. This is not an issue of FEMA, but the building’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places, so I’m perplexed why former downtown planning studies (particularly one from 1991) included the notion that this building could be redesigned into mixed-use, when it evidently never could be anyway.

    It is unfortunate the county seems to be moving forward on a new facility, as this one will just remain yet another building for the city to maintain that they cannot really use well.

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