New county administration building nears finish

Contractors are performing a “smoke test” to detect the source of air leaks in the heating system of the new Kitsap County Administration Building this week. working toward an early May occupancy.

“We’re moving along,” said Facilities, Parks and Recreation Director Mark Mauren. “The heating system problem has put us behind a bit. But these systems are new, and there isn’t a lot of experience with them.”

The system forces warm air through a hollow floor and out of carefully spaced vents. However, the system has developed several leaks, allowing air to escape in places that do not heat the building.

The contractor is in the midst of a test that forced smoke through the system in order to pinpoint the leaks’ location. This should take another week. After this time Mauren expects it will take two weeks to plug all the leaks.

Following this, Mauren then estimates it will take six weeks to move all the furniture into the new building.

This plan will result in an early-May occupancy, which Mauren said will include a ribbon cutting and the appropriate ceremony.

The $25 million building, which broke ground in spring 2004, has faced several delays. It is currently behind schedule, but the county is not at present assessing the daily penalty its contract allows. Mauren said the county may exercise that option in the future.

Mauren said the move-in date for some departments may remain flexible. For instance, the county treasurer collects the first half of property taxes during May and could choose to stay put during that time.

Other than the treasurer, the new building will hold the County Commissioners, Auditor, Assessor, Administration and Department of Community Development. This will transform the current building into a law and justice center, holding courts, the county clerk and the prosecuting attorney.

The original plan was to renovate the old building for permanent occupancy. This became impractical as costs increased and the building’s stability was questioned.

The county now plans to apply temporary renovations and complete plans to construct a new law and justice center by 2011.

Mauren said the biggest uncertainty is whether the City of Port Orchard will require the installation of a sprinkler system in order to implement the temporary renovations.

Mauren said that once Port Orchard determined the sprinkler requirement the county will commission an architect to design a remodeling plan.

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