Civic Campus Plan FAQ
San Juan County’s functions are housed in a variety of facilities and sites that have developed sporadically over time. Administration, Community Development, Health and Community Services, several Elected Official’s offices, and Public Works functions are located in several facilities in the Town of Friday Harbor. The current configuration does not support efficient operations or customer service. The County is looking to design a new Civic Campus to bring these departments together to increase efficiencies, reduce operating costs, and provide better service to County residents. A new Campus would also provide new inside and outside spaces for community use.
The current project is to develop a Plan for the new Civic Campus. The process will include producing two design concepts on two potential sites and then further developing one preferred alternative on the selected site.
The County is committed to providing opportunities to inform and involve the public—across all islands in the County—throughout the planning process. Input gathered will be used to inform the design of the initial concepts and to select the preferred alternative.
1. Why do we need a Civic Campus?
San Juan County’s functions are housed in a variety of facilities and sites that have developed sporadically over time. Administration, Community Development, Health and Community Services, several Elected Official’s offices, and Public Works functions are located in several facilities in the Town of Friday Harbor. The current configuration does not support efficient operations or customer service. Many facilities are inappropriate for their current use, difficult to renovate to support modern operations, and are becoming increasingly costly to maintain.
This new Civic Campus will bring these departments together to increase efficiencies, reduce operating costs, and provide better service to County residents. The new Campus will also provide new inside and outside spaces for community use. This is intended to be an amenity for the community, not just a facility for the County.
2. Which departments will be in the new Civic Campus?
The new Civic Campus is intended to house the County Administration (County Manager, Information Services, and Facilities Manager), County Council, Department of Community Development, Health and Community Services, Public Works (except Maintenance and Fleet), and the Assessor, Auditor, and Treasurer’s Offices. Others, like the Prosecutor, District and Superior Courts, and Sheriff, will continue to be located in the Courthouse.
3. What will happen with the buildings that are currently occupied by those County departments?
Depending on the outcome of this study, the County may decide to sell some of its current properties if they are determined to no longer meet the needs of the County. This revenue will be used to help offset the cost of the new building. Some of these sites that are near the new Civic Campus may also be used for employee parking. Spaces vacated by the Assessor, Auditor, and Treasurer’s Offices may be re-purposed for use by the courts or Sheriff. The courthouse will still be in use.
4. How much is the new Civic Campus going to cost?
We will do a cost estimate based on the preferred alternative. Throughout the design process, the team will be cost-conscious, looking for ways to meet all of our needs while using space efficiently. This is an investment for the future. Once we are in a shared space with more up-to-date and energy-efficient systems, we anticipate that we will spend less on the operations of a new facility than we do now on several separate facilities that require significant and continual maintenance.
5. When will the new Civic Campus be built?
The timing will depend on securing funding for construction. Once this Plan is complete and we have the preferred design alternative, it will go before the County Council. Ultimately the timeline will depend on Council review and action as well as obtaining financing.
6. Where will the new Civic Campus be located?
There are two possible sites. The first option is in the triangle-shaped parcel bounded by Second St, Reed, and Blair. That is where some of the County offices are already located. The other possible site is across the street, where there is currently a parking lot shared by the Community Theater and the Courthouse. We understand that that parking lot is heavily used and that some parking would need to be retained on that site with any displaced parking spaces replaced with adequate and convenient parking nearby.
We will be evaluating these two options based on community input, County staff input, and the square footage needed to accommodate all of our functions.
7. What will this campus plan include and when will it be done?
The campus plan will detail how the designated County departments and functions will be incorporated into a new single campus on County-owned property in Friday Harbor. The plan will also detail the inclusion of community space to support public gathering and programming.
We will develop a few possible design concepts with site plans and three-dimensional illustrations to establish the desired site and building character and convey the development vision. We will share those visuals for community and County staff feedback. That will inform the development of a preferred alternative, which will be presented to the County Council.
The planning process began in late January 2018 and is expected to conclude in late summer 2018.
8. What can I weigh in on and how will my input be used?
Early in the process, the public is invited to weigh in on the vision for the new Campus, community needs and uses that we should aim to accommodate, the character of the building, indoor and outdoor spaces, and public amenities. Your input will directly influence the work that the urban planners, landscape architects, and architects will do as they develop various design concepts.
A couple of months later, you will have the opportunity to review the different design concepts and let us know which ones you prefer, and why. We will carefully consider the input that we receive when we determine which of the design concepts will become the final one that is presented to Council. We would like to have a final plan that has broad community support and meets community needs, in addition to the needs of County departments.
9. When will I have a chance to provide input?
Soon! We will have an online survey available in early March to gather initial input on the vision and priorities for this new Civic Campus. We plan to have a virtual open house with an additional short survey available online in early June to gather feedback on the alternative design concepts. Finally, there will be a short public comment period later in the summer where you can comment on the design that has been marked as the preferred alternative.
10. Why should I take the time to respond to the survey?
This is your opportunity to tell us your priorities when it comes to the new Civic Campus. The Civic Campus will be located in Friday Harbor but it needs to effectively serve the whole community across all of the San Juan Islands.
We want the design to reflect local priorities and preferences. We are issuing the survey very early in the process so that we can really listen and use your input to directly influence the very first design concepts. The County wants to provide the highest-priority amenities for the community.
11. Why isn’t the County doing more in-person events to collect input, like an open house?
We want to reach as many people as possible from across all of the islands, and a survey is an efficient and convenient way to do that.