Feb 15, 2013 - By Steven R. PeckUsing part of the Major land for a new courthouse and sheriff's office sounds good
As Fremont County's leaders continue to kick around the very complicated idea of relocating the county fairgrounds to the spacious piece of property commonly referred to as the Major land north of West Sunset Drive, it's good to see that another, smaller project is being pursued as well.
A new county "justice center" for Riverton is emerging as a priority for part of the Major land.
Fremont County's government doesn't really like owning empty land all that much. When you think about it, there simply isn't a lot of unoccupied "county land" sitting around, at least not in the way we think of "state land" or "federal land."
So the county is looking hard at the options for using the Major property -- sold to the county at a steep discount by the Major family of Riverton a couple of years back.
A new facility, designed and built specifically for the functions of a modern courtroom and holding area, sheriff's office, and county government suite, would be a good way to begin putting the property to use.
County commissioners, judges, law enforcement and office personnel, and other citizens have recognized the need for such a facility for the Riverton offices for many years. No tears would be shed if we said goodbye to the tin-shed, piece-mealed, afterthought county offices on South Federal Boulevard, especially now that a wall of huge cargo containers has been set around the place for security purposes.
A new, larger, well-planned center, built expressly for the modern requirements of county government in the county's largest population center, is overdue.
Yes, there's the matter of a $5 million price tag -- about 50 times more than the county had to pay for the land itself, if memory serves. Five million isn't cheap, but if the new justice center were used as long as the old one has been, it would cost each Fremont County resident about $3 a year, while still leaving the huge majority of the land available for other uses.
County leaders are looking at various possibilities to site and pay for the new digs in Riverton. Pick a plan and move forward. It's high time.
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