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City looking to upgrade Law and Justice Center, Hope to have on Ballot in June

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BOZEMAN -

The Law and Justice center has been a hot topic in Bozeman for a while now as city officials have been looking to build a new one for quite some time. Last election, voters in Gallatin Count y voted against the proposed 68 million dollar upgrade.

Now, the Bozeman City Commission is considering ways to upgrade the building. Commissioner Chris Mehl said that a new Law and Justice center is absolutely in the long term plans for Bozeman, but they need a plan now that is cheaper and will help with some of the current problems like safety and over crowdedness. Mehl said that this building is an Old Catholic high school and absolutely would not withstand an earthquake.

 “The Law and Justice Center is both, it's the enforcement side with the Sheriff and the Police Department, but it's also the courts,” said Mehl.

He continued, “The County Courts, the District Courts and the City Courts, and we are looking splitting them in half. It would be better if we did it all at once, but that's a little too rich for the voters so we are looking at do we build a new facility for police and sheriff and then move the courts into where they vacated so they expand that way, or vice versa.”

However, a new problem could stand in its way.

Last week open space advocates announced they would be pursuing a citizen petition to place a $20 million open lands bond which would cause people to choose what is more important.

Back in 2000 and 2004, two 10 million dollar bonds were passed by the county residents and that money was used to protect open space. With how fast Bozeman is growing, that money has been used up. Now, They would like an extra 20 million to help protect space that is not covered. This could potentially affect the passing of the Law and Justice Center. However,  Mehl believes that they will be on different ballots so people will not have to choose.

Mehl said, “It could, the public lands advocates are shooting for a vote a year from now November of 2018. It's entirely possible that the city and the county will have an agreement about the Law and Justice center and will have a vote in June when the primary traditionally is. So they might not affect each other at all, or barely so we will just have to wait and see how fast we get going.”

Mehl said that they hope that the Law and Justice Center will be on the Ballot in June, 2018.

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