La Plata County commissioners on Tuesday approved about $4.3 million to renovate the former National Guard armory building in Bodo Industrial Park to be used for the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.
The renovation of the armory building is one of 11 capital improvement projects the county budgeted for in 2019 using funds mostly set aside when tax revenues were high during peak oil and gas years in anticipation of future needs.
The Colorado National Guard Army unit stationed in Durango in 2017 left its post at 283 Girard St. to join its parent unit in Montrose in an effort to save time and money.
In summer 2017, as part of a lease agreement, La Plata County took possession of the building, and it was decided it would be used for the Sheriff’s Office administration and criminal investigation departments, as well as the patrol squad unit, totaling about 65 employees.
La Plata County Search and Rescue will also be stationed at the site.
Lee Gurule, assistant director of the General Services Department, said the project will renovate all 17,622 square feet of the armory building and includes a 4,657-square-foot addition on the second floor.
An additional $1 million grant from the Department of Local Affairs will help fund the project, Gurule said.
Sheriff Sean Smith said the project will also include two investigation rooms, which will allow investigators to question suspects in a more secure setting than at the jail.
In October, a new $5.4 million building for the La Plata County Assessor, Treasurer and Clerk and Recorder’s offices was approved, also to be located in Bodo.
That move, county officials say, will allow plans to progress to sell the Old Main Post Office. Recently, the county’s information technology and GIS offices moved out of the Old Main Post Office to the basement of the La Plata County Courthouse.
And, the moves will mark the vacating of the last space the county leases, the Clerk and Recorder’s Office at 98 Everett St., which costs the county about $132,000 per year to rent.
La Plata County, in the early 2000s when revenues were high from a peak in the oil and gas industry, started saving money for needs anticipated in the future, Joanne Spina, former county manager, said previously.
Spina, who retired in January, said all these moves are part of that long-term planning. The funds saved, she said, are for “capital” projects – one-time purchases – rather than sustaining needs, such as roads and bridges and the county’s operating budget.
“All of these moves we’ve made have been long-term thinking … and set us up for decades now,” Spina said.