La Plata County Human Services will have a permanent home at 10 Burnett Court after county commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to spend up to $8 million on the new office space, where the department will move at the end of this week.
The move will free up space in the basement of the La Plata County Courthouse, where Human Services was housed along with the Building and Planning departments. The latter relocated last month to new office space at Rock Point Drive.
Human Services personnel also will move from the Riverbend North Campus into the new building, which the county is leasing until the June 2 purchase closing date.
Newly emptied space in the courthouse basement allows for expanding court services, so commissioners see the purchase as a win. But some residents opposed moving county services from the downtown area and detracting customers from downtown businesses.
“I’ve received comment in favor of the move and some concerns that this could have a long-term impact on downtown Durango,” Commissioner Gwen Lachelt said. “Some folks consider this a grave mistake.”
The Human Services Department, which includes the child foster-care program, will be accessible by public transportation upon request after the move, which begins Friday.
The 136 parking spaces surrounding the 40,000-square-foot building will alleviate some parking issues downtown.
“I view this as a win-win,” Commissioner Julie Westendorff said. “It addresses space needs at better than market price, puts county staff in a more workable space, and allows a repurposing of space for the court, which is taking a larger and larger presence here.”
Commissioner Brad Blake agreed. “A year ago when I took office, I looked at the price of buildings. I think this makes good business sense. Parking will be much better than in the past, and I’ve spoken with downtown businesses. They said they’ll find a way to reach these people, whether it’s through deliveries or whatever.”