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Supervisors Narrowly Approve Contract For Elevator At Yaney Courthouse

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Sonora, CA — The historic courthouse building on Yaney Avenue in Sonora has been sitting vacant for about a year since the new Courthouse opened on Justice Center Drive.

The county has not decided how to utilize the property in the future, but Assistant County Administrator Eric Erhardt noted at today’s supervisors’ meeting, “In order to fully use it, there needs to be an elevator installed.”

The upstairs, including the historic courtroom space, only has stairway access.

Today the board voted 3-2 to approve a contract with the firm Lionakis, paying up to $198,000, to draw up construction documents for installing an elevator.

Supervisor Ryan Campbell argued, “I want to see that building used, and right now, nobody is in it. Nobody has access to the third-floor courtroom. I think it is beautiful and needs to be used in our community, not just for board meetings, but also for a variety of public meetings. The way we do that is to make it accessible for people with disabilities.”

Some community members voiced concerns during the public comment period about the high cost of the contract.

Supervisor Jaron Brandon said he also wants the building to go to good use, but feels it is premature to do an elevator plan ahead of a completed overall space needs study, which looks at various government properties and potential uses. Brandon would also like to give local companies a chance to submit bids/proposals for the contract.

Supervisor Kathleen Haff pointed out that there are very few firms that can do what Lionakis does,  in relation to engineering and a historical review. She said, “We want it done right. It is a safety issue and has to be designed correctly within the confines of that building. There are a lot of considerations that make it more expensive than your average Joe elevator.”

Supervisor Anaiah Kirk joined Campbell and Haff in favor of funding the contract, while supervisors Brandon and David Goldemberg were in opposition.

The actual construction of an elevator is projected to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $780,000.

Without an elevator, the use of the building would primarily be limited to the first floor.