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ISSUE: New county government building
OUR VIEW: Only one chance to get it right
Included in its budget for next fiscal year, Hardin Fiscal Court approved a recommendation from Judge-Executive Harry Berry to invest $500,000 in plans for a new county government building.
Much of the public conversation has been directed at the plight (or perhaps the word is flight) of Elizabethtown’s downtown. It seems the focus instead should be directed toward what that half-million should accomplish.
First of all, any new building must adequately take into account specific needs of the various offices it will house. That can range from climate-controlled, fire-resistant record storage for the county clerk’s office to interrogation rooms with security controls for the sheriff's staff.
The scope of the building will be quite significant. Consider that it must house the seat of government, which means everyday work spaces, private office settings and major meeting space for periodic needs.
Of course, it’s likely to include everything now housed in the H.B. Fife Courthouse and the R.R. Thomas County Government Building. It also could house materials now kept in off-site storage or in the annex on South Mulberry Street.
What must go there and what will go there could be very different matters. These are decisions for county leaders and for the firm helping to draft a construction concept. But the implications are far reaching.
In addition to adequate, a new building must be efficient. State-of-the-art heating and cooling systems with an eye toward financially responsible solutions are essential. It also must meet all environmental standards and keep an eye on green solutions.
Technological needs of each office must be considered with resolutions also keeping in mind the ever-changing electronic improvements of our age. Another consideration could be solutions to make remote electronic access to services and information easy.
Architects also will be asked to ensure the building is fully accessible to residents with mobility impairments or visual and auditory disabilities.
Outside the building, the public will expect it to offer convenient parking. And when considering parking, thought also needs to go into expansion. Designers must assume Hardin County’s growth and development will continue and build in options for tomorrow’s needs.
Finally, this building needs to be presentable or even pretty. Hardin Countians are proud people and want to proudly point out their new building.
We’re not talking excessive expense to create a monument. It doesn’t need to rival the Taj Mahal or even Fort Knox’s Human Resources Center of Excellence. But it should have an attractive, noble design with keen architectural and landscaping features.
County government only gets one chance to do this right and no one wants to waste a dime of that $500,000.
Eventually, the question of where will be resolved. Right now, the key questions all start with what.