Citizens for Courthouse Conservation's Perspective

Topics for Discussion

     Our mission, to promote solutions for conservation and restoration of the Historic Pottawatomie County Courthouse, does not recognize RAZING the Courthouse, or the current County Office Building, as a solution to the facility needs of Pottawatomie County.

     We believe consideration should be given to a variety of factors– including dollars and cents, but NOT JUST dollars and cents.  We believe the 1884 Courthouse to be a viable part of the solution to Pottawatomie County’s facility needs.  We believe it is functionally, as well as historically, worth saving, whether in continued use as a county government office building, or as a private sector business enterprise.  (Note: Pott Co. Counselor has, August 29, 2017, publicly advised Commission to not offer the property for sale.)

Economic Development ** Click here **

     Economic benefits of restored historic courthouses from the Texas Historical Commission:  “Restored historic courthouses have proven to be an economic booster for the Texas and local county economies. The counties with restored historic courthouses also see an impact in the form of increased safety, accessibility, energy efficiency, tourism, and more.”

     Impacts of Landmarks Illinois’ Richard H. Driehaus Courthouse Initiative:  “In virtually every instance there was a renewed understanding of the importance of the historic courthouse to the community and an enhanced appreciation of the other historic buildings in the county.

     Just take a look at what’s happened in Westmoreland in the last several years:  THREE NEW businesses, all in OLD HISTORIC buildings.

Facility Scenarios:

Scenario #7  ** Click here **

     This Scenario #7, developed by the Citizens for Courthouse Conservation to address Pottawatomie County facility space needs over a 20-year period, conforms to department/office square footage requirements detailed in Pottawatomie County Facilities and Space Assessment, BG Consultants, 10.5.2015.

     Scenario #7 proposes similar occupants in a remodeled Courthouse as:  BG Consultants Old Courthouse Building Case Study – Option 1 ** Click here **  which suggests housing County Administration, Human Resources, EMS and Fire (and Court Services), and would include an Elevator.  In their 10.5.2015 document the Total Project Cost for site construction costs, remodel construction costs ($100 per square foot for Heavy Remodel and $75 per square foot for Moderate Remodel), as well as non-construction costs is listed at $1,276,616.87.

     Note: BG Consultants recommended Scenario VI appears to exclude Pottawatomie County Extension in its facility plan, provides no space for Buildings and Grounds (Custodial) department, but includes County Health Department in the proposed 40,000 square foot consolidated office building.

(Summarized) BG Recommendation, Scenarios I to VI, and Facility Improvements to the Courthouse, ** Click here **  from BG Consultants 3.8.2017 Life Cycle Analysis and Inspection Report.  This document lists costs at $1,328,254.65, rather than $1,276,616.87 and is assumed to include inflation costs accrued between 10.5.2015 and 3.8.2017.

Public Meeting Handout, Total Project Allowance, pg. 29  **Click here **

     This is only the Totals page (see Summarized… Facility Improvements to the Courthouse below).

     It appears that the Budget column, $1,328,254.65, represents TODAY’S COSTS, but when spread out and assigned as Priority I (0-5 Years), Priority II (6-10 Years), or Priority II (11-20 Years), this allows factoring in inflationary costs, specifically at 17.5% (Priority I), 35.0% (Priority II), and 70.0% (Priority III).

See (Summarized)… Facility Improvements to the Courthouse)  ** Click here **

     Some line items, including painting, sealants, weather-stripping, refinishing surfaces, and replacing floor coverings are duplicated in 2, sometimes 3, Priority (Ranges).  This takes a Project Allowance Budget of $1,197,704.82 up to $1,345,893.13.  Then add $150,438.10 (Priority I), $81,277.61 (Priority II), and $177,817.60 inflationary costs to that, plus $146,702.35 in Architect and Engineering Fees, and you get $1,902,128.78 as the 20-Year Repair and Compliance Cost.  YES, THAT’S $409,533.31 FOR INFLATION if construction of the building is delayed 5 Years and then maintained.

20-Year Repair and Compliance Cost  ** Click here **

     AND to the $1,902,128 Repair and Compliance Cost ADD yet another $1,736,908 to “Fully Utilize”!  This is the number that, according to the consultant, represents the cost to remodel and maintain the Courthouse over 20 years– $3,639,038.  Citizens were provided no detail or explanation at the public meeting of the $1,736,908 to “Fully Utilize”.  Here’s a clarification from the consultant, after it was specifically requested:

Following is a summary of where the $1,736,908 is referenced from:

  • First, I realize that I did not spend much time discussing the remodeling aspect of the scenarios to modify the building to best support department functions and spaces. However, the $1.7 million is specifically utilized to upgrade that usable portion of the building to function with current program needs including, but not limited to: 1) expanded data/telephone and power, 2) select renovations to reconfigure the interior spaces for allocated department uses, 3) integration of heating and air condition throughout the building (VRF or equivalent).

  • Second, the $1.7 million is generally derived from the County Facilities 2015 Space Assessment Heavy (Major) Remodel costs of $100 per square foot of floor area from page 140 and the Pottawatomie County Building Portfolio 2017 Life Cycle Assessment 3.8.2017 section 3 Statement of Probable Cost Scenarios at a rate of $100/sf for Heavy Remodel Construction. In both conditions, non-construction costs are included to derive at a value of $134/SF. Applied to 12,962 SF of building area the budgeted allowance is $1,736,908.

  • Third, the life-cycle comparisons are valuable in that they create a clear understanding of investment in project improvements. While the $1.9 million repairs and provides life-safety compliance, the $1.7 provides functionality.

OBSERVATION:  BG Consultants Old Courthouse Building Case Study – Option 1 ** Click here **

specifies Remodel Construction costs at Heavy Remodel (50%) and Moderate Remodel (38%), plus Elevator (8%).  Could Moderate Remodel Construction apply to a portion of the “Fully Utilize” costs also?

AND, WHY is the $134/SF Heavy Remodel cost calculated on the total outside square footage of the Courthouse and not the Net Usable inside square footage of the Courthouse?  The difference between outside total and inside usable square footage, 12,962 vs. 9,213, at $134/SF is quite considerable,  $1,736,908 vs. $1,234,542, or $502,366!!

Funding:  **Click here ** for KS Dept of Revenue Annual Report – 2016

Pottawatomie County:

     2nd lowest county-wide mill levy (2015) in the State of Kansas at $92.66 per $1,000 Assessed Valuation

     Exceeds State average by over $500 for Per Capita on (2015) Real/Personal Property tax collections

     2nd highest in State at $1,331 Per Capita for STATE Sales tax collections, State average at $931

     Collected over $5.1 Million in COUNTY Sales and Use Tax FY 2016; County share over $3.2 Million

Site Considerations

     Storm water runoff concerns with a larger building at the Courthouse site

     Parking adequacy for staff and the public– effect on Main Street/Downtown parking

     Why connect to the Justice Center?  Couldn’t this compromise controlled and secure access to the Justice Center?

     What is a realistic cost to raze the Courthouse, the Old Jail, and the County Office Building?

     Those three buildings are currently, in 2017, on the County’s Property Record as being valued at $81,820, $7,960, and $426,810 respectively.  (Note County Office Building valued $650,850 in 2016.)  Should they all be razed?

Tax Credit, Grants

Tax Credit Basics: Introduction (from Kansas Historical Society)  ** Click here **

Tax credits provide a key tool for the rehabilitation of historic properties—both income-producing and non income-producing. The federal program provides an income-tax credit equal to 20 percent of qualified rehabilitation expenditures on income-producing properties. The state program provides a tax credit equal to 25 percent of qualified expenditures on income-producing or non income-producing properties. Projects must meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.

Heritage Trust Fund (from Kansas Historical Society)  ** Click here **

The Heritage Trust Fund (HTF) is a state program that provides matching funds for the preservation of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places or the Register of Historic Kansas Places.  The HTF reimburses expenses for projects that preserve or restore historic properties. Qualifying expenses include professional fees and construction costs. Properties owned by the state or federal governments are not eligible, but those owned by local governments, private individuals, non-profit, and for-profit entities qualify. Individual grant awards may not exceed $90,000 and must be matched by the grant recipient. Yearly grant rounds are highly competitive. Applicants are encouraged to submit preliminary applications for review and comment.

Pottawatomie County Commissioners' Perspective

   Pottawatomie County Commissioners, from everything we have heard, have yet to speak publicly about a specific timeline for addressing Pottawatomie County’s facilities needs, their perceived priorities, a specific vision at completion, or funding of the projects.

     Yet they have allowed continued discussion of the possibility of razing the 1884 courthouse.

     This fosters the feeling that, at this point in time, their only priority is removing the 1884 courthouse from any future County facilities equation.

     A 20-year Master Facilities Plan recommends more than $12 million in new buildings and renovations to current facilities owned by Pottawatomie County at Westmoreland.  “This is a starting point for discussion,” said Commissioner Dee McKee.  “This is a good start.”  The Smoke Signal, April 26, 2017

     Steve Minton, Westmoreland, asked commissioners to go on record as to how they felt about demolishing the county courthouse as part of a 20-year facilities plan.  Both commissioners (Weixelman and Altenhofen) listed their status as “maybe,” pending further research and the financial feasibility of refurbishing the courthouse versus building a new structure.  The Manhattan Mercury, June 6, 2017

     Steve Minton, rural Westmoreland, asked (Commissioner) McKee how she felt about a proposal to raze the old county courthouse…..  “It’s complicated,” McKee replied.  “It has to have function.  It just can’t be saved.  It has to function and we know it’s going to cost a considerable amount to make it functional.  With enough money, anything is saveable.”  The Manhattan Mercury, June 13, 2017

     “What a shame it would be… if we don’t preserve this building or at least repurpose it.  Is it going to boil down to just money”? Dru Clarke asked.  “It’s more complicated than just dollars,” replied Commissioner Dee McKee.  “The hardest part is we need space, and space that’s functional for offices.  The stone wall configuration (of the courthouse) is not necessarily conducive to offices.”  The Manhattan Mercury, July 4, 2017

     Additional, unreported, comments:  Weixelman…. “respect you all carrying the banner, but how are you going to pay for this?”  Dru Clarke…. “how are you going to pay for a new building?”  Weixelman…. “that new building right now is not even in consideration for 10 years…. as far as I’m concerned that new building is not even in the making for 10 years.”

Pottawatomie County Commission Meeting, July 3, 2017

     Commissioners have made no decision on the facilities plan nor the future of the courthouse, but have indicated their decision will be guided by the efficiency and the best use of taxpayer dollars.   A special informational meeting to discuss the future of the Pottawatomie County Courthouse and other facilities needs will be held at 7 p.m. July 6 in the Sunflower Room, 612 East Campbell, Westmoreland.  Westy Offical Weekly, July 6, 2017

      “This discussion is far from over,” Weixelman said.  “As far as I’m concerned we can do this again.  It’s not going to hurt my feelings.  This is the biggest conglomeration of people I’ve seen in the nine years I’ve been here.  We’re not going to go behind your backs,” Weixelman said.  “You’ll have plenty of chance to make your feelings known.”  The Manhattan Mercury, July 7-8, 2017

     The commission agreed to have a roundtable discussion with members of a concerned citizens group to discuss the Pott. County Courthouse and other facets of a proposed long term Facilities Master Plan completed recently for the county.  Commissioners said they would schedule a meeting with the citizen’s group for some time in late August or early September.  The Smoke Signal, July 26, 2017

Consultant's Perspective

Faciliity Scenarios

(Summarized) BG Recommendation, Scenarios I to VI, and Facility Improvements to the Courthouse ** Click here ** from BG Consultants 3.8.2017 Life Cycle Analysis and Inspection Report.  This document lists costs at $1,328,254.65, rather than $1,276,616.87 and is assumed to include inflation costs accrued between 10.5.2015 and 3.8.2017.

Handout: Public Meeting July 6, 2017 ** Click here **

     Note:  Photo (of floor tile) on page 8 is a “stock image”, and is not of the courthouse.

     Note:  Photo (of weakened mortar joints) on page 18 is of a portion of the old (1910) jail building, not of the courthouse.

Questions taken at July 6, 2017 Public Meeting  ** Click here **

     This is the list of questions submitted by attendees at the Public Meeting.  Answered and posted on Pott Co website October 2, 2017.  See our section What’s Happening? for those (modified questions and) answers.

Will there be a need for an updated assessment/analysis?

     A question from Citizens for Courthouse Conservation:  If the recommended Scenario VI is not implemented with 0-5 years, will there be a need for an updated facility use assessment and life cycle analysis?