Courthouse assessment grant sought

ALAMOSA — Alamosa County commissioners this week authorized intern David Strawn to apply for a $15,000 grant from the State Historical Fund for an assessment of the old courthouse that will be vacated when the new justice center is completed.

Alamosa County Administrator Gigi Dennis told commissioners during their Wednesday meeting that she and Strawn had been exploring opportunities for the old courthouse once the new one is built. She said she would have more detail for the April 11 meeting, because she had asked Facilities Management Director Andrew Atencio to provide information regarding repairs needed now on the building and what the county has already done.

“We don’t have enough money to put resources into keeping that building functional as a county resource,” Dennis said. However, someone else might be interested in taking advantage of that historical and aesthetic resource, she said.

She said she has spoken with District Attorney Crista Newmyer-Olsen about moving from her current site to the old courthouse because her space is currently limited, but the current location has central air and the courthouse does not. Dennis said the DA’s office pays $2,600 a month in rent now, plus some of the utilities.

The AC is not the only concern in the old courthouse. Heating is either on or off in the whole building, Dennis said, and the boiler is about 40 years old.

Dennis asked Strawn to check with the Historical Society to see if there might be funding available for the old courthouse.

Strawn said the State Historical Fund has historical structure assessment grants for which the county could apply. The assessment would provide a status of the building from structural integrity to electrical and mechanical systems, he explained. It would also include a feasibility study.

He said he would like to seek a $15,000 grant to hire a consultant to do the study. He said there is a list of people approved to perform such work, and he would look at which consultants were local and would do the best work.

No match would be required from the county for the $15,000 grant, Strawn said.

If and when the county receives the $15,000 grant, it could then apply for competitive funds from the State Historical Fund to work on the building. Strawn said the county could apply for multiple grants and complete work in phases.

Strawn added that the county had received state historical funds to redo the exterior brick and windows about 20 years ago.

He said the county could apply at any time for the $15,000 grant, but the deadlines for the competitive grants are April 1 and October 1. He said he would like to be able to apply for one of those grants by October 1 but did not know if that timeline would be possible.

Commissioner Helen Sigmond said there is a lot of community interest in what is going to happen to the old courthouse, and she believed it would be beneficial to pursue an assessment grant. Commissioners Darius Allen and Michael Yohn agreed, with their vote unanimous to authorize Strawn to apply for the $15,000 grant.

Yohn said regardless of what happens with the building in the future, the information from an assessment would be valuable.

Caption: Alamosa County Courthouse/Courier photo by Ruth Heide