By Rod Rose
For the Times Sentinel
Bringing the Boone County Prosecutor’s now-scattered departments into one building is one of the options being considered for the former Elks Lodge, 220 W. Washington St., Lebanon.
Boone County bought the Elks Lodge building for $225,000, $73,000 less than the asking price, in May 2012.
Built expressly for the Lebanon Elks in 1924 by prominent engineer Henry Ulen, the two-story brick and limestone structure has a 9,000-square-foot first floor and a 2,000-square-foot second floor. It had been used as offices by several firms after the Elks Lodge moved in 1981 to a building on Lafayette Avenue.
The ground floor is compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act; other areas of the building are not and would have to be modernized.
Remodeling the building’s basement into offices will cost about $4,500, according to an estimate furnished by Mike Miller, the courthouse maintenance superintendent. The work would be done with in-house, part-time labor, county attorney Bob Clutter said, with money from in county’s cumulative capital development fund.
The Boone County Commissioners have hired DLZ, an engineering firm, to prepare a set of preliminary plans and a space analysis of the upper two floors, at a cost not to exceed $10,000.
One possibility, Commissioner Jeff Wolfe said, was to move the prosecutor’s office into the building.
“That’s preliminary; we’ve not made any decisions at this time,” Wolfe said after the commissioners approved the agreement with DLZ. “It could be adapted to other uses.”
One of the tasks for DLZ is to consider what security issues would have to be addressed before the prosecutor’s office could be moved, Wolfe said.
Meyer said in an email that he’s “open” to moving his office to the Elks Lodge “if it is renovated to accommodate a 21st-century law office employing 25-plus people.”
Now, the prosecutor’s office occupies about half of the Boone County Courthouse’s first floor; an area of the fourth floor, and rents space in the Key Bank Building at Lebanon and Main streets, south of the courthouse.
“I’ve been looking for space for a long time now,” Meyer said. “We are simply packed in here like sardines and it is very difficult to work efficiently in the space we have.”
While he wouldn’t expect the Elks Lodge to be upgraded to “private law firm standards ... it needs to be suitable for housing a modern-day law office at the level of ordinary government work space,” Meyer said.
The commissioners also want to sell a remodeled home at 416 W. Camp St., Lebanon, that has been used for county offices, and bring those agencies downtown. The county rents two floors of the Key Bank Building; the surveyor, planning department and health department occupy a former J.C. Penney store that was extensively renovated several years ago.