KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County Commissioners approved more than a million dollars to pay for temporary fixes at the downtown courthouse.
It’s now the cooling system in the nearly 90-year-old building that needs emergency repairs.
Crews drained the cooling system in February to prevent it from freezing during cold weather. Now it can’t be turned on again because inspectors found several issues with it. They say if the A/C system is used as it is, it could be damaged further.
“It’s full of sludge and we’re afraid that once you do turn it on we could end up with more leaks,” Dan Tarwater, Jackson County Legislator, said during an April 12 commissioner’s meeting.
An estimate predicts the temporary repairs will cost nearly $1.7 million. Lawmakers approved transferring the money from the county’s General Fund to pay for the repairs. The county said the project must be completed before summer arrives.
“Right now we are unable to cool this building because we cannot restart our chilled water system, because we’re concerned about some catastrophic breaks,” Troy Schulte, Jackson County Administrator, said.
“This is a very dire situation,” Judge Dale Young added.
The judge said temperatures reached the mid to upper 80s in jury rooms this week. Jury trials just restarted at the courthouse and the warm conditions are uncomfortable for other employees there too.
“We’ve got to figure out a solution that allows us to keep the building, operating, keep the business and the county and the courts operating and find a way to make this building habitable when the temperatures escalate, which they will inevitably do over the next couple of months,” Schulte said.
This comes two years after water main breaks caused millions of dollars in damages to the courthouse. Crews are also still in the process of repairing and replacing elevators damaged in the flood. At one point only one public elevator in the building was working.
The temporary fix on the cooling system is expected to take four to six weeks.
The entire system will need to be replaced in about five years according to the public works department.