The Benton County Board of Commissioners recently received a report on the site master plan developed for the new Community Safety and Justice Campus, located one mile north of downtown Corvallis, adjacent to the campus HP Inc. DLR Group Architects conducted several working sessions with county staff and community partners to develop trial adjustments of proposed county court system facilities on campus. The sitemap is nearing the final stages of development.
The site is currently zoned industrial and has been assessed for setback, utility, road and floodplain requirements. The site master plan also reflects the county’s values of sustainability and accessibility. Next steps include sharing the plan with the City of Corvallis planning department and working with ODOT to determine access points to the site from Highway 20.
The 29.53-acre campus buildings will be oriented to provide views of nature and the Willamette River. The three-story courthouse will be oriented to provide views beyond the site, over the Willamette River, towards downtown Corvallis, as well as Mary’s Peak. The planned buildings are oriented to maximize natural lighting of interior spaces, control glare and reduce solar heat gain.
The buildings and parking area will be sited to utilize the natural topography of the site which flows west and north. The orientation of the plan allows water to be directed into new landscaped channels at the perimeter of the site which will then connect to the wider natural system. This approach focuses on sustainability as it uses landscaping for water quality treatment, reduces the need for underground utilities and reduces costs. Although the site is not within the 100-year floodplain, a small portion of the southwest corner of the site is within the 500-year floodplain. This is not a problem for construction as all buildings will be located above floodplain elevation.
A preliminary traffic study was completed in February 2021 using a scenario of a multi-building justice campus. Community access to the site will be via a new collector street proposed as part of the Corvallis Transportation System Plan, near Highway 20. site, but a left turn lane from Highway 20 at the collector street is justified. Transit options will be explored as the county continues to build the site. The courthouse is the visual center of the site plan, the public car park is located adjacent to the courthouse and the buildings will have public lobbies facing a centralized public car park.
The property was selected by the Board of Commissioners in January 2022 after an 18-month community process that evaluated several options to meet the needs of Benton County’s court system. After several efforts to negotiate a sale agreement with the owner, in July 2022 the county made a last and best offer of $5.477 million to purchase the property. If, after 40 days from receipt of the offer, a sale is not negotiated, the county may file an eminent domain lawsuit to acquire the property. It is a process to determine the fair and reasonable purchase price of the property needed to construct the necessary facilities for the benefit of the public.
Last month, the Board of Trustees voted to raise a 50% Courthouse Matching Grant and fund the construction of the new Benton County Courthouse and District Attorney’s Offices through a loan from the county. The new courthouse will replace the iconic historic courthouse. A Historic Benton County Courthouse Preservation Committee has been tasked with developing repurposing options. Benton County Director of Public Works Gary Stockhoff is the project manager for the new courthouse and district attorney’s offices.
“We can’t wait to start the design process. The county recently selected DLR Group to provide architectural services to the courthouse and district attorney’s offices. Our contract negotiations are ongoing and should be completed before the end of September. Design efforts will begin immediately once the contract is executed,” Stockhoff said. “Additional buildings proposed for the campus include a new correctional facility, sheriff’s office and emergency operations center to replace existing facilities that are inadequate and outdated.”
Justice System Improvement Program Director Nick Kurth has been involved in the development of the campus since the site selection process began more than two years ago.
“This site master plan sets the stage for implementing the county’s vision of an accessible and efficient justice system. The plan was thoughtfully designed and aligned with community values. It also provides ample space for future facility or service expansions for Benton County residents,” Kurth said.
Members of the public can learn more by visiting theJustice System Improvement Program website.