The Justice Center Task Force, a coalition of county officials, Lake County and Leadville law enforcement and judicial entities, is moving forward with plans to build a new justice center for the county.

Last Friday, at a special meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, commissioners Sara Mudge and Kayla Marcella voted in favor of funding a letter of engagement, a step towards receiving legal counsel for moving forward with the project, with Patrick Wilson of the Denver-based Hoffman, Parker, Wilson and Carberry law firm.

This phase will include site assessments and advisement to the county on how to proceed in selecting the remaining two potential sites for the location of the new justice center. One site is the Union Pacific Railroad property at the corner of Harrison Avenue and Monroe Street; the other is undisclosed.

Commissioner Mark Glenn voted against funding the process, citing concerns for the unknown cost and impacts of closures and response to COVID-19.

Following an earlier decision to fund the project through a certificate of participation, the project is no longer subject to a ballot measure to approve funding for the justice center.

In addition to a combination of state-provided money and grant funding, the Lake County Board of County Commissioners will fund the project out of its operating budget, Katy Welter, justice center task force facilitator, said during a remote meeting of the task force Wednesday.

The county, being under a mandate to provide an adequate justice center, feels a sense of urgency to continue with the project, Welter said.

Currently, the county could apply for funding at an interest rate of 2%, the low rate serving as another incentive to move forward with the project quickly, she said.

The task force has received schematics for the new facility, and will select a contractor next week. The task force plans to begin construction of the new justice center in 2021.

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