The iconic tile-roofed turquoise dome above the historic Old Pima County Courthouse is leaking and needs major restoration before it suffers any more damage.
Restoring the dome is a focal point of a $20 million to $25 million proposal county officials are preparing to submit to the county bond advisory committee.
Other major points in the proposed bond package include:
• Turning the former offices on the first floor into space for both a Jan. 8 memorial and a planned Western art museum.
• Returning one of the courtrooms to its original state.
• Relocating the offices of the Board of Supervisors and county administrator to the second floor.
Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said one of the most easily recognizable fixtures in downtown has begun to leak, requiring the county to hire a professional roofer to painstakingly remove each tile on the dome, then photograph and number it before making repairs to the underlying substructure.
"The dome requires resealing to prevent water leaks and damage," Huckelberry wrote in a recently released memo.
He hopes the repairs could also restore public access to the dome, allowing county residents and tourists to tour beneath one of downtown's oldest structures. It has been several decades, he estimates, since the last major renovation of the courthouse.
The Spanish Colonial Revival courthouse, designed by prominent Tucson architect Roy Place, was built in 1928 for about $350,000.
In 2004, the county set aside $5 million to renovate a vacated portion of the old courthouse. That cost has doubled because the plans have now expanded to include repairs to the entire courthouse.
"It is now estimated that a full renovation of the Old Courthouse, to accommodate the county administrator, Board of Supervisors and clerk of the board, will be in the range of $9 (million) to $10 million for second floor, third floor and dome roof improvements," he wrote.
Huckelberry said he believes that the first floor should house a permanent memorial to the six people killed and 13 injured during the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting rampage at a northwest-side Safeway.
He indicated he would combine a pre-existing request before the Pima County Bond Advisory Committee to build a Western art museum for $5 million with the request for $10 million from the nonprofit January 8th Memorial Foundation.
The total cost currently adds up to between $24 million and $25 million, but Huckelberry said he believes the costs will be revised later this year to roughly $20 million.
"The $10 million estimate for the January 8th memorial is a very conceptual estimate, and I do not expect the total cost to approach that amount," Huckelberry wrote in a July 26 memo to the county staff.
Stephen Brigham, president of the January 8th Memorial Foundation, said the board continues to see a need to put a memorial at the heart of the Tucson community - downtown Tucson - rather than at the scene of the shooting.
The board's vision for the memorial will incorporate outdoor spaces next to the courthouse to create "places for quiet reflection and remembrance, gathering spaces dedicated to 'democracy in action' and landscaped open-space design elements with public art inspired by the spirit of the three January 2011 vigil sites."
The bond committee is expected to spend the next six months reviewing more than 100 proposals worth $1.3 billion for possible inclusion on a November 2014 bond ballot.
Help decide next year's bond ballot. Take the Pima County bond survey.
• The survey closes on Aug. 3
• The survey will be posted online until the end of the day on Friday, Aug. 2.
Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4346.