Another leak has caused another headache at Jackson County’s Downtown Courthouse, and at least some county legislators seem willing to entertain the idea that it’s time to replace the 87-year-old building.
A “facility conditions assessment” in the works should give officials a clearer picture.
On Monday, Jackson County Circuit Court Presiding Judge David M. Byrn gave legislators an update on last weekend’s issues. He said it was in no way catastrophic – water leaked in a jury room, came through a ceiling and got into a judge’s chambers, causing damage – but he said it’s the sixth such incident this year. Also, a major water leak from outside the building closed the courthouse for weeks earlier this year, and officials have spent a great deal of time recovering from that.
“It is 87 years old,” Public Works Director Brian Gaddie said. “It has received little to no maintenance” in the years before he took the job. He said Public Works has shifted from reactive to proactive maintenance of the building and is working through upgrades,
Byrn suggested that “... something needs to be done on a grander scale to address that building.”
“The pipes in that building are way past their useful life, period,” he said.
Byrn was also sharply critical several weeks ago when the three of the four public elevators were out, a hardship or at least a hassle for jurors and others who use the building. Two of those four have been out since the flooding early in the year, and the county does not yet have a contract to fix them.
Legislator Tony Miller, D-Lee’s Summit, wondered if a new building is needed.
“I mean, I don’t have an answer,” he said. “And I love that building.”
“The building is old ...” added Legislator Jeanie Lauer, R-Blue Springs. “It’s not going to get younger.”
Byrn questioned the efficiency of putting more tax money – Band-Aids, he said – into a building that has large, long-term issues.
“It will continue. We will continue to have these failures,” the judge said.
Miller asked about the proper format in which to have a broader discussion about this.
“Are we doing the right thing now?” Miller asked. “Are we wasting a bunch of money?”