bill gorman

Bill Gorman, the engineer for Albany County, discusses revisions made to the county's north entrance renovation project.

Albany County commissioners approved a deal with Arcon Inc that sets the maximum guaranteed price at $1.64 million for a planned rebuild of the courthouse’s north entry.

Arcon will now advertise for subcontractors and the company’s owner, Brandon Ahrenholtz, said he’s hoping to break ground “in the next month or so.”

The $1.64 million price was the county’s original budget for the project, and Bill Gorman, the county’s engineer, needed to take out some planned features to get the project under budget.

“About a month ago, or a little more than that, the architects finished the plans for the north entry. The construction-manager-at-risk prepared a guaranteed maximum price based on those plans and it came in quite a bit above our budgeted amount,” Gorman told commissioners Tuesday.

When finished, the renovation will change how the public enters the building.

After construction is complete, all other doors will be locked to the public. People entering the building will need to come through the north entrance and pass through a security check.

Under the designs for the new entrance, all members of the public will enter the building without ascending a staircase. Once inside, those with mobility issues can use an elevator to reach the building’s second floor. Anyone else can ascend a staircase.

Once on the second floor, the public will likely go through a security screening before being able to access county offices.

Arcon, which is serving as the county’s primary contractor, submitted a price of $1.72 million, about $78,000 over budget.

“Really, all we’ve done is move some of the costs to a later date, hoping to buy a little time and, in the future, get some additional funds to put into the project,” he said.

To bring the project under budget, Gorman cut out about $10,000 of planned signage for the entrance.

County officials have expressed concern about how icy the courthouse’s sidewalks and steps can sometimes be in the winter. To combat that issue, the original plans for the courthouse renovation called for a heating system under the sidewalks leading to the north entry.

“We’ve now removed the snowmelt system,” Gorman said. “We’re going to put tubing in under the sidewalks but we don’t have any of the equipment or boilers to run it, so that will be a future cost.”

Gorman’s also reduced the contingency fund from more than $70,000 to $43,000.

Under the scaled-back version of the project, the agreement approved Tuesday doesn’t include site restoration for the landscaping that is disturbed by the construction.

“Of course, we’re still going to have to do that work, so it’s really sort of a slight-of-hand to pull that out of there,” he said. “If you look at everything, we’re probably $120,000 to $150,000 short of everything that needs to be done to do that project right. But if we keep waiting for another budget cycle, it’s just going to get more expensive.”

Gorman said it’s possible the county could still get some savings from subcontractors’ bid prices being lower than expected.

“It’s probably not going to be $140,000, but we might pick up a little bit of money,” he said.

Gorman said he’ll prioritize site restoration using any savings the county could find after subcontractors are hired.

Ahrenholtz said the original estimated cost of the project rose from $1.4 million as the design process began adding more features.

“It’s a very intricate project,” Ahrenholtz said. “You’re talking about a masonry package that’s pushing a quarter of a million dollars. Basically, the intent is to match what we have here at the courthouse already and not have something that sticks out like a sore thumb.”

(1) comment

Silence Dogood

It's interesting how much the planned renovations sound like what's really going on is to turn the courthouse into a fortress. This is not unlike the Laramie Police Department headquarters off Skyline Road. It's probably reasonable to assume the security checkpoints in the courthouse will be operated by the Sheriff's office deputies too. Perhaps it hasn't been reported but just how many problems have their been with security in the courthouse over the nearly 90 years since it was built? Are our county employees under threat to such a degree that the building must be fortified and access so carefully limited? Have the roughly 50,000 citizens of Albany County become so dangerous to our public servants that we must sequester them away behind guarded entry checkpoints? I'm sure the employees of nearby Laramie City Hall must be feeling very undervalued and over exposed if the danger in the county courthouse is so great and yet the city keeps their municipal administration building comparatively unprotected. Thank goodness the armed members of county and city law enforcement will both now be sequestered in their bunkers - away from the rowdy citizens.

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