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County one step closer to offering Lower Valley district court services

After taking an initial look at three sites for the possible siting of a Lower Valley district court, the county is ready to take the next step.

Tuesday morning, Yakima County commissioners approved the selection of KDF Architecture of Yakima as the firm that will go back and take another look at two of the three possible sites. The county is considering placing the Lower Valley district court in Sunnyside, Grandview or Toppenish.

Yakima County Court Administrator Harold Dalia told commissioners that the proposed site in Sunnyside would include the construction of an addition to the existing Law and Justice Center.

Dalia said the proposed Grandview site is the old Department of Social and Health Services building on Wine Country Road. He told commissioners that as it exists now the building is about 13,000 square feet in size, and that the district court would only need about 5,000 square feet.

The third site being considered is in Toppenish. Dalia said this site would require the purchase of land and the placement of a modular unit that would house the district court.

Dalia explained that KDF Architecture is being brought in to look at both the Sunnyside and Grandview sites to determine what work would have to be done to make room for the district court, as well as what the cost of those renovations would be. He noted that they are not looking at the Toppenish site because a modular-type building would not require major renovations.

According to Dalia, nine different architectural firms submitted their names for consideration to do the work needed at this phase of the district court project. Dalia said KDF Architecture was selected due to its experience and its ability to work within the tight time constraints.

Bringing a district court back to the Lower Valley is being made possible through the three-tenth's of 1 percent sales tax increase voters approved last fall, Dalia said. He expects the Lower Valley district court to open its doors sometime in 2006.

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