Grand County Administration Building renovation done at last |

Grand County Administration Building renovation done at last

Tonya BinaSky-Hi Daily NewsGrand County, CO Colorado

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

Grand County HR Specialist Brenda Welch had one of the smallest office spaces in the county building prior to its recent $4.4 million renovation.The size of a small walk-in closet, Welch’s office had once been the building’s mailroom. A couple times per month, Payroll Specialist Patty Brown would have to join Welch in her office for payroll.”We would share a very, very small space,” said Brown. “I’d be practically sitting on her lap.””We had a lot of togetherness,” agreed Welch.Now, Brown and Welch each have their own offices on the third floor of the west wing of the newly renovated Grand County Administration Center. It’s the second major renovation the building has undergone since it was built in 1937. “It’s so much brighter,” Brown said. “We didn’t have a window before. Now we have three.”Terri Ficken of F&D International, Boulder, said she worked with Architect Alan Carter of Granby to increase the amounts of natural light in all department spaces. For example, office doors have windows to bring more outside light in, she said. Also, an effort was made to lighten county interiors with light-colored walls and more windows that match the original 1930s aesthetic.Flooring and finishes were chosen to last the next 30 years, Ficken said.County Switchboard Operators Mary Beckert and Deb Seebaum are settling in to their new spaces. Once employed in a space about the size of a toll booth – even smaller than Welch’s – they now have room to walk around. Their office is located at the main-front entrance of the administration building. “We love it! It’s better than our closet,” Becket said.Most department heads say the renovation has made spaces more “functional.”But the renovation wasn’t without mid-construction tolerance.”Our employees: I just can’t say enough about them,” said Grand County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran. “It’s pretty stressful to always be under construction and have noise and dust.”For weeks during the final phase of construction, plywood divided construction work on the main floor of the building from county work areas that were available for public use. But the temporary plywood separations created a maze-like atmosphere for both visitors and employees.”To get to the treasurer’s (office), we had to go downstairs, out by the clerk and recorder, out the front door all the way to the planning door, in the planning (department), then up the stairs to get to the treasurer. And it’s literally right below us, but it was long walk to get there,” Brown said of the mid-construction maze.”When those came down, it was a like a big reveal,” said County Public Information Officer Gretchen Bergen. “Revealed” were the main-level reception desk and the driver’s license office, both created out of the former Clerk and Recorder’s office.Clerk and Recorder, the department that receives the most public traffic, is now located where the commissioner boardroom and administrative offices once were. That office now has elevated seating for serving customers eye-to-eye, and much greater work space than what the department had before.The county renovation came out of $2.4 million left over from the judicial center lease purchase and another $2 million out of the county general fund.Although county officials aimed to have the administration building come in at the $3 million mark, Underbrink Curran said, an unforeseen asbestos problem and a decision to improve roofs on the road and bridge, jail and administration building, plus more changes that came along from the bulk of the renovation of an old building, bumped the cost up to more than $4 million. She commended Big Valley Construction, Granby, project manager F&D and architect Carter for successfully bringing the project to final certificate of occupancy.”It think it’s a very functional building without being extravagant,” said Commissioner Gary Bumgarner. • The county building, last updated in the 1970s, has been fully abated of asbestos at what was an unforeseen add-on cost of more than $600,0000 – with monitoring – during the renovation project. “That was quite a jolt because we’d already spent money to make sure all those things were taken care of,” said County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran.• In the commissioner boardroom, an $8,000 custom boardroom table was designed to fit the room and to invite those with board business to sit directly across from the commissioners, something Commissioner Gary Bumgarner said was important to each of the three commissioners. The table now features a video camera above it, so that documents and maps reviewed on the table can be seen by the audience on two monitors mounted in the boardroom. • The renovated county administration building is now totally rewired with category 6 network cable for phones and data. All peripheral buildings have been connected using high-speed cable allowing for resource sharing and improved communication.• County employees gained a new workout room made up of donated equipment from the sheriff’s building, employees and Emergency Services. “We’re self-insured, and so anything we do that makes our employees more healthy saves us money,” said County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran about the workout room. Employees also have a new kitchen/cafeteria, which replaced the small mailroom/sink space formerly used as an employee kitchen. • The building department is now housed next door to the planning department on the lower level. Because that department moved from a separate county building located in Hot Sulphur Springs, that building is now being used for Public Health and the Heart of the Mountain Hospice. Meanwhile, the Rural Health Network, CASA, 1451, Grand Beginnings and the state electrical inspector have moved into the former District Attorney’s office in another Hot Sulphur Springs building owned by the county. Four of those agencies are nonprofits the county is supporting with free office space, in addition to the Advocates, Colorado West Mental Health and the Mountain Family Center for which it already provides space.• The renovated county building has fire sprinklers throughout, according to County Building Official Scott Penson. Further bringing the building up to code, the renovation proved to make the entire building more accessible in accordance with the American Disabilities Act – from all entrances and hallways to counters and bathrooms. • During the renovation, the county gave away usable doors, windows, plumbing fixtures and other materials to those who could use them on a first-come, first-serve basis. “We just felt like it’s the public’s money that paid for it,” Underbrink Curran said. “If the public wanted to take it and had a use for it, they should be able to do that.”