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Utah County buys prime Provo property

Attorney, recorder, health department competing for site

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PROVO — Utah County has only just bought a prime piece of real estate in Provo, and three departments are already hoping to claim it.

"We know everybody's looking at it," said Commissioner Jerry Grover. "But we want to take our time and do what's best for the county."

The former Gibbons-Ford property, purchased this month for $3.2 million, consists of a 2.4-acre piece on the corner of 100 South and University and a second smaller piece on 200 South.

County employees and visitors are already being encouraged to park on the property while the commissioners and county building officials decide what to do with it.

"We know the Health Department is in need, but there's still some life in that building," Grover said. "And we know the attorney's office is crowded, as is the recorder's."

Grover said Clyde Naylor, the county engineer, is assessing departmental needs and taking an inventory of the available space. When he's finished, the commissioners expect to be able to determine exactly what will be built.

"Right now, we can start demolishing the building that's there and doing some cleanup and sealing. We have some underground storage tanks to take care of and some asbestos in the old building," Grover said.

"Then we want to look at interest rates and the availability of construction crews. Plus, if we oversize it, we want to look at leasing rates for possible revenue."

Grover said the county paid cash for the property but will probably need to bond for building construction. He does not expect to have to raise taxes to pay for it.

"This is something we tried to buy a few years ago and they weren't interested. We just waited and then it popped up again so we took advantage of the opportunity," Grover said.

Joe Miner, the county executive health director, has said he hopes the new building will house the health department since the aging building on South State is poorly situated for the public and needs new heating, electrical and plumbing systems.

Kay Bryson, the county attorney, points to the cramped working conditions for several of his investigators in the current administration building and the increasing pressure to find space for evidence and case file storage.

Rod Campbell, assistant county recorder, says the recorder's office, trying to keep up with increasing demand for services, has pushed into every corner and space that can be found.

"We need to expand, and there's nowhere to go," he said.

E-MAIL: haddoc@desnews.com