Wadena County annex to go next to courthouse

At a special board meeting held June 27, Wadena County Commissioners chose a location for the new courthouse annex. The annex, which will be built next fall, will be located at the corner of Jefferson St South and Dayton Ave. SW, just north of the existing courthouse.

The two residential lots that the county is purchasing, located behind and west of the courthouse, will be used for a new parking lot for visitors and employees.

Architect Chad Bormann of BHH Partners, Perham, led commissioners through a discussion of three options for the building location, and encouraged them to make a firm decision at the meeting, which they did.

Following the choice of building location, the board authorized Bormann to hire an engineering firm to survey the county property and take soil borings at the site where the new building will be built. Bormann was also asked to begin a discussion with the City of Wadena about the county’s need for a variance for the project, so that the city can issue a building permit for the annex.

The county needs a variance from the city because it does not have the required number of off-street parking places for the courthouse to meet state codes, and is short 29 places. When the new annex and new parking lot are built, the county still will not have enough off-street parking places, but will have more than it has now. With the new parking lot, the county will be short only 11 parking places, Bormann said. 

The annex will house the office of the county attorney and the community corrections office. The two offices will be separated by a wall for security purposes. 

An option for the project is the construction of a covered walkway between the annex and the courthouse. Whether the walkway can be built this year will be determined by the cost estimates received when bids are submitted by contractors.

Bormann told the board that the timeline for the project includes a two-month period for the civil engineering work to be done (July and August) and construction drawings to be created. Then bids will be requested in early September. Bidders will have approximately two weeks to prepare their cost documents, with contracts to be awarded by the county by the end of September. 

Bormann said he hopes that the foundation and building shell will be completed by Dec. 1, so that the interior work can be done indoors during the winter months.

Commissioners will discuss the options for the building’s exterior finish, including colors and design, in July.

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