Bidding nears for new Dallas County courtroom

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Construction bids will be received in February on a new second-floor courtroom in the Dallas County Courthouse. The design was approved by the Iowa Fifth Judicial District court administrators and will be paid for by the taxpayers of Dallas County.

The final step in the latest reconfiguration of the Dallas County Courthouse will soon be taken when the county supervisors take construction bids next month on a new second-floor courtroom, based on a design approved by the Iowa Fifth Judicial District court administrators.

The rearrangement of the county courthouse started in August 2018, when the state district court authorities sketched out their growing space needs for the Dallas County Supervisors. Accommodating the court’s needs started with the relocation of the offices of the Clerk of Court and Juvenile Court Services in April 2019 and was followed soon after by similar moves by the Dallas County Treasurer and Recorder’s offices in June.

When the rearrangements were complete, they left vacant the western half of the second floor of the Dallas County Courthouse. This wing will now be filled by a courtroom rivaling in size the facility’s largest courtroom, Room 300 on the third floor.

The county, which is responsible to provide adequate room for the state court system, will receive bids on the construction project until Feb. 13 and hold a public hearing Feb. 18 to consider the bids and possible let the contract.

The engineer’s estimate for the new second-floor courtroom is $350,000 to $370,000.

The digital infrastructure for the new courtroom will be bid separately, according to Jerry Purdy, architect with Waukee-based Design Alliance, now owned by the Farnsworth Group Inc.

“This project is heavier on technology than the other courthouse facility projects, such as the treasurer’s and recorder’s offices,” Purdy told the supervisors Tuesday. “When we relocated those, we pulled the wires for technology and used a lot of the existing courthouse technology to do that. This project has more technology from the standpoint of communication from the judge’s bench to attorneys’ tables and so forth, and so we just want to make sure we have our ducks in a row for that.”

The courtroom technology will be uniform with the standards of the most up-to-date system used in courtrooms in the Polk County District Court. Room 300 of the Dallas County Courthouse does not currently use the latest technology.

With the impending opening of the new Dallas County Law Enforcement Center in Ortonville and the county’s recent acquisition of the former automobile dealership property at 818 Court St., the supervisors are weighing options for repurposing the old county jail and sheriff’s offices at 201 Nile Kinnick Dr. N. Purdy has drawn up provisional plans for an additional criminal courtroom for the Fifth Judicial District in anticipation of further growth in the population of Dallas County.

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