By Aziza Jackson
EUGENE, Ore. — Lane County is currently seeking $94 million in state funding for the construction of a new courthouse that would replace its current aging facility originally built 60 years ago.
According to Lane County officials, the current courthouse is not sized to handle the over 33,000 cases filed there each year. The design of the building also makes it impossible to provide a secure, private setting for victims and opposing parties. The design also restricts access to individuals with limited mobility.
The new site of the courthouse would be on the block to the east of the county’s Public Service Building, on the former site of the City Hall. Both the county and city have agreed on a land swap that would make the relocation possible.
In Oregon, counties are responsible for providing the buildings where the state circuit courts operate while the state is responsible for funding the operations. In response to the growing statewide need for new courthouse facilities, the Oregon Legislature will provide up to 50 percent match funding for the state portions of a courthouse building.
“A new Lane County Courthouse would represent our community’s commitment to fair and impartial justice and strengthen the central element in our public safety system,” said Lane County Circuit Court Presiding Judge Debra Vogt. “A new courthouse would bring together our community’s heritage and future in a building responsibly designed to serve Lane County for generations.”
Lane County recently worked with Eugene-based firm Robertson|Sherwood|Architects pc and courthouse consultant DLR Group to conduct a scoping study to validate the former City Hall lot as a viable site for the new courthouse and to refine the needed square footage to accommodate current and future needs.
The study includes a recommended program and potential floor plan diagrams that address the significant concerns regarding security and access for people with limited mobility.
The cost estimate, based on detailed pre-design analysis, includes approximately $94 million in matching state funds and an approximately $158 million in local funds.
“The opportunity to leverage nearly $100 million in state funds is critical to help us make space for justice in Lane County,” said Lane County Administrator Steve Mokrohisky.
When the Board of County Commissioners reconvenes this year, commissioners will have the opportunity to discuss next steps, including local funding and placing a potential General Obligation Bond before voters.