Polk County Courthouse Preservation Update

The following update on the preservation of the historic Polk County Courthouse comes to us from Beth Baldwin, district court administrator for the Fifth Judicial District:

As many of us can see from the scaffolding and hear from the machines, the cleaning and repair of the exterior surfaces of the historic courthouse is well underway. If you haven’t already taken a walk around outside, it is remarkable how nice the areas already cleaned are looking! The cleaner being used by Neuman Bros. Construction is a safe, water-based product with a protectant against algae – the organic growth on the stone that turns it black. The cleaner will keep “eating” the algae embedded in the stone after application for an even cleaner appearance in time than that “just washed look.” The repair of the stone, grinding and tuck pointing is going well also. The estimate at this time is a completion date of late October or early November. 2014. There will also be some new exterior lighting added to highlight the beauty of the building at night in the Des Moines Court Avenue District.

In addition, the work on the former Wellmark building – the Polk County Justice Center – is proceeding on schedule as well. The Schematic design and cost estimate work has been completed. Design Development will continue through the end of June. Our next set of meetings will be with the stakeholders for each of the specific courtroom designs. This will be where we discuss the details for what will go into the courtrooms, sight lines, placement of the bench, witness stand, court reporter desk, and more. There will be meetings set up in June so please do your best to attend and provide your input if this involves you. The architect team from OPN, led by Dave Hill and Emily Kistner, are also working on exterior design of the building. There are some renderings of the possible exterior for the Justice Center and the lighting plan for the historic courthouse posted on the file cabinets outside Sherrie Schuck’s office if you are interested in taking a look.

The rest of the schedule for the Justice Center planning looks like this: Construction documents are to be completed in October 2014; bids will be let in November 2014; and construction will start in December 2014.