$1.5 million more in emergency funds approved to temporarily cool Jackson County Courthouse

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Relief is hopefully on the way for employees and visitors at the Jackson County Courthouse.

The county legislature approved more than $1.5 million Monday for temporary cooling of the building during repairs.

Nearly 90 years ago, the Jackson County Courthouse opened downtown. It has the same air conditioning system from back in the 1930s. The city’s Public Works department is hoping it can get it back in running order.

“We are at end of life on almost all the systems,” said Brian Gaddie, Jackson County’s public works director.

Technology from decades ago can’t withstand the test of time. The county legislature approved more than $1.5 million for temporary air conditioning into the building. That’s on top of the $1.7 million approved the previous week for the actual repairs to the system.

“Now we’re looking at a lot of things proactively than retroactively, but nonetheless the damage is done. We can assume that 30-60 years potentially of action was not taken to some of these systems, but even then, these systems have life cycles. There is a beginning and an end,” Gaddie said.

During Monday’s meeting, Judge Dale Youngs made a plea for approval of the funds.

“This is one of those times where we need this. We need it. The community needs it. Everyone who we serve needs it,” Youngs said.

He believes the process will take longer — and more money — than expected. He said they need to prepare for that reality.

“The idea that this is about a 3-week fix is probably not in line with the facts. I think the project will most likely extend into July when the heat index is well around 100 degrees,” said Youngs, Jackson County Circuit Court judge.

Gaddie said at some point in the next decade or two, there will need to be a long-term solution to update the courthouse for years to come.

“We’re expecting that the majority of the systems that we’re facing issues with will require a replacement of sorts. At that time, a decision will be made to trigger probably that entire building overhaul or restoration,” Gaddie said.

The cooling system the courthouse uses relies on pumping cool water to create cool air from within the walls. Gaddie said when they flushed the water recently, instead of looking like tea, how it normally should, it resembled coffee grounds.

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