Project funding for the new Benton County Courthouse decided
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
The Benton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to proceed with the construction of a new courthouse with a 50% state matching grant and the County borrowing the remaining funds needed. This decision ensures that the courthouse project will proceed as scheduled and the County will be able to meet the timeline for the HB 5006 state grant agreement. The Board had explored a number of financing options and considered including the project in a May 2023 bond measure. The bond measure planning will proceed without the courthouse project.
Several new facilities are under consideration as part of the Justice System Improvement Program, based on a comprehensive 2018 assessment. For greatest efficiencies, the facilities will be co-located on a Community Safety and Justice Campus. Facilities include a new courthouse and District Attorney’s offices, correctional facility, and Sheriff’s office and Emergency Operations Center. A new Crisis Center is also planned as part of the Justice System Improvement Program and will be located in downtown Corvallis. The May 2023 bond measure may include funding for the crisis center, correctional facility with adequate space to offer specialized services and support for individuals struggling with mental health or addiction challenges, and Sheriff’s offices and an emergency operations center.
The 134-year-old historic Benton County Courthouse presents serious barriers for accessibility, has ADA and seismic deficiencies, and is inefficient. The new courthouse will be located one mile north of downtown Corvallis off 2nd Street on the Community Safety and Justice Campus. The estimated cost for the 34,600 square foot courthouse is $50 million, which includes a 50-percent state matching grant. The project will be managed by Benton County Public Works, with the design process beginning in fall 2022. The new courthouse is scheduled to open in 2025.
Honoring the community’s connection to the historic Courthouse and building grounds, the County is committed to maintaining its significant character for generations to come. Led by Lynne McKee, Benton County Natural Areas, Parks, and Events director, a Historic Courthouse Preservation Committee has undertaken developing repurposing options for the Board’s consideration.
The Justice System Improvement Program (JSIP) is a multi-year project that began with a detailed 2018 assessment. Findings of that research showed that existing facilities are antiquated, too small, and have security issues. Currently, people experiencing addictions and mental illness struggle to find help. Limited jail space means offenders are routinely released into the community, with no space for mental health services or addiction treatment programs. The County’s plan involves the development of a number of new facilities as well as expanded mental and behavioral health crisis programs and services to balance treatment and accountability in Benton County.