Grand Island, NE -- Wednesday the Chair of the Hall County Board of Supervisors called a special press conference to tell the public about new developments in the courthouse project.
Bob McFarland called for this special meeting one hour after he received the cost estimates of two of the six potential courthouse projects.
"They chose B-1 because they felt that it would probably be the most costly of the options. They chose A-3 because they felt that it would probably be one of the most inclusive of the safety center options," said McFarland.
Option B-1, building a new addition to the courthouse, is estimated to cost between $12,341,000 and $13,898,250. McFarland said the judges agreed that in this plan, county court will be held in the addition, and district court will remain in the historic building. However the district courts will have to be moved around all throughout the construction.The old Health and Human Services Building along with the original jail will both be demolished in this plan.
Option A-3, adding a 3rd floor to the safety center building, is estimated to cost between $9,998,138 and $11,450,613.
"I thought they might be over $15,000,000 in my mind, so I'm happy," said McFarland on the estimates.
These costs are higher than the original $1,000,000 renovation estimate, but Vice-Chair Pamela Lancaster said they are necessary.
"We know #1 that we must do the heating and the cooling system, we must renovate that. Second of all we know that we must add to the courts because both District and County court have advised us that they need more help. More judges will be assigned to Hall County Court and to the 9th District, Grand Island," said Lancaster.
It was known this had to happen years ago and now the board is trying to plan for years ahead.
Lancaster said, "This is not a small project. If it was a small project it would have been completed 15-20 years ago when it first started being discussed but boards have actually done studies and then shelved them because of cost, because of this is a very difficult process."
"This is a building that we're building for the next 75 years. Not a patchwork thing that is just going to take us 15 years down the road," added McFarland.
A discussion will take place in a few days about which project to choose, including a public review at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
And on March 25 they will discuss how to finance the project. McFarland and Lancaster both admitted that the County Board does not have a lot of money and costs could have to be covered by a bond issue.
McFarland said construction will likely not be able to begin until next spring, and the project could last as long as two years or more.
Bob McFarland's press conference lasted over 20 minutes. The announcement in its entirety and the Q&A session are above. If you would like to see the two estimated costs or the schematics of all six proposed projects, click the documents in the right column under the picture.