180919_FACILITY

This image shows proposed changes to the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds that are contained in a new facilities study.

JANESVILLE

Several aging Rock County buildings could get sweeping upgrades costing tens of millions of dollars if the county board follows recommendations in a new facilities master plan.

Based on suggestions in the plan, the upgrades could range from remodeling the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds to building a new health care center and sheriff’s office complex.

Representatives from Venture Architects, a Milwaukee firm, on Tuesday presented the plan to the Rock County Board’s General Services Committee as a five- to 10-year facilities recommendation.

The board commissioned the $77,500 plan last year to address functional inefficiencies and space inadequacies in several county buildings.

Venture representatives suggested the county’s most pressing concerns are the health care center and sheriff’s office complex, which includes the Rock County Jail. They said those facilities have inefficient layouts and lack adequate amenities and space.

The 46-year-old health care center uses space particularly poorly, according to the plan. Representatives suggested constructing a new health facility in a more central location—such as downtown Janesville—to better serve clients.

New building options could cost $21.2 million to $32.2 million, according to Venture’s initial budget review. The higher price tag would apply if the county consolidates several human services buildings into one facility.

Such a plan could combine the health care center, job center, Janesville public health building and county counseling center on Franklin Street in Janesville in a 95,000-square-foot building costing an estimated $32.2 million.

A new or remodeled sheriff’s office could cost $27.6 million to $29 million, according to the budget review, while a new jail could cost upward of $52 million.

Other facility needs identified in the plan include a medical examiner’s department and IT department.

At the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds, the plan recommends upgrades ranging from $1.7 million to $5.5 million. Suggestions include a general site reconfiguration with a new Craig Center, additional pavilions and removal of the grandstand.

The county board would have to approve any facility upgrades. Venture representatives will present the master plan to the board Sept. 27, but no action will be taken at that meeting.

Rock County Administrator Josh Smith said the board will discuss the plan and whittle down its suggestions, but he’s unsure when that will happen.

“There’s a lot of information to absorb,” he said. “I think it’s going to take the county board and general services (committee) a little bit of time go through it.”

Smith said the county does not have a target price tag for the upgrades. How much the board ultimately spends will be determined by members’ comfort level and how much debt they’re willing to accrue.

But Smith noted the county has the capacity to borrow. It is still paying for the Rock Haven Nursing Home, which was built in 2013, and has typically just been borrowing for road projects.

“This is the first public presentation of the entire plan,” he said. “It’s going to be a process.”

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