Why not build underground?

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By Richard Hannemann

Dear Editor,

In the long run, the most practical and cost-effective thing to do with the Municipal Building is to refurbish it and bring it up to snuff. To replace it requires a new architect, RFP’s, new design processes, demolition (and possible site-mitigation) costs, approval of any new building first by council and then by the community – all prior to any actual construction costs. This works out to be a fairly lengthy process during which time the county is spending a chunk of change renting temporary office space.The proposal to locate a new building at a different site further compounds the problem as a site selection process will be lengthy. Yes, the proponents of a different site have specifically in mind either Trinity Place or a close location (possibly the current Smith’s site), but not only do you have the extra time in choosing the site, there is the matter of availability schedule to build on the site – putting a new Municipal Building in Trinity will involve a re-design by Boyer to accommodate the building, and it will still be a couple of years before the Trinity project really gets going (if it becomes a reality at all). Sitting at the current Smith’s can’t happen unless, and until, Smith’s moves elsewhere. And all the long while the county is still laying out a goodly chunk of change in rents. You see the problem here.Meanwhile, we are still trying to grapple with the police/jail/courts complex, and this can’t wait forever. Here’s a thought: How’s about we combine the Municipal Building and the police/courts complex into a single project. Stay with me on this. While we refurbish the current Municipal Building, we rip out the parking to the west of it (yep, we have to move the modules elsewhere), excavate and build a connecting underground complex twixt the Municipal Building and the current police station, which will house the courts and jail. Once done, we put back the parking lot. Voila: Muni/police/court complex fully integrated, and nothing changes from street level.This we could get started on right away and have completed in reasonably short order. Sure beats the alternatives.Richard HannemannLos Alamos