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 HP Inc. campus. Architects from DLR Group have conducted multiple work sessions with County staff and community partners to develop test fits of proposed County justice system facilities on the campus. The site plan is nearing the final stages of development.
The site is currently zoned industrial and has been evaluated for requirements related to setbacks, utilities, roadways, and the flood plain. 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 points of access to the site from Highway 20.
Buildings on the 29.53 acre campus 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, to the Willamette River, towards downtown Corvallis, as well as Mary’s Peak. The planned buildings are oriented to maximize daylighting of interior spaces, control glare, and reduce solar heat gain.
The buildings and parking area will be located to utilize the natural site topography which drains to the west and north. The orientation of the plan allows water to be directed into new landscape channels at the site perimeter which will then connect to the larger natural system. This approach is sustainably-minded because it uses landscaping for water quality treatment, reduces the need for underground utilities, and reduces costs. While the site is not within the 100-year flood plain, a small portion of the southwest corner of the site is located within the 500-year floodplain. This does not pose an issue for construction because all buildings will be located above the flood plain 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 proposed new Corvallis Transportation System Plan collector street off Highway 20. The maximum projected trips to the site are so low they do not warrant a traffic light from Highway 20 to the collector street that will run across the site, but a left turn lane from Highway 20 to the collector street is warranted. Public transit options will be explored as the County continues to build out the site. The Courthouse is the visual center of the site plan, the public parking lot is located adjacent to the Courthouse, and buildings will have public lobbies facing a centralized public parking area.
The property was selected by the Board of Commissioners in January 2022 after an 18-month, community-involved process that evaluated multiple options to meet the needs of Benton County’s justice system. Following several efforts to negotiate a sales agreement with the property owner, in July 2022, the County offered a last and best offer of $5.477 million to purchase the property. If, after 40 days from receiving the offer, a sale is not negotiated, the County may file an eminent domain lawsuit to acquire the property. This is a process to determine the fair and reasonable purchase price for the property needed to build necessary facilities for the benefit of the public.
Last month, the Board voted to leverage a 50% matching grant for the Courthouse and fund construction of the new Benton County Courthouse and the District Attorney’s Offices through County borrowing. The new Courthouse will replace the iconic Historic Courthouse. A Benton County Historic 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 are looking forward to getting started with the design process. The County recently selected DLR Group to provide architectural services for the Courthouse and District Attorney’s Offices. Our contract negotiations are underway and should be completed before the end of September. Design efforts will begin immediately once the contract is executed,” said Stockhoff. “Additional proposed buildings for the campus include a new Correctional Facility, Sheriff’s Office, and Emergency Operations Center to replace existing facilities that are inadequate and antiquated.”
Justice System Improvement Program Manager Nick Kurth has been involved in the development of the campus since the beginning of the site selection process that began over 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 has been designed thoughtfully and aligns with community values. It also offers sufficient space for future expansions of facilities or services for Benton County residents,” said Kurth.
Members of the public can learn more by visiting the Justice System Improvement Program website.