REED CITY — When the Reed City Area District Library opened its new home in July, it left empty space on the first floor of the Osceola County Courthouse Annex building.

Officials have spent the last six to eight months thinking about what can be done with the additional space at the building, which houses probate and family court, the prosecutor's office, child support and victims rights offices, Community Corrections, 49th Circuit Court probation and parole and 77th District Court and probation.

Over that time, members of the Building, Technology and Economic Development/Public Safety/Health and Human Services Committee have discussed renovating the space to provide additional security, a single public entrance, provide additional storage needs and a lobby/waiting areas for people.

On Tuesday, the Osceola County Board of Commissioners approved spending $5,300 for Landmark Design to perform a feasibility study on the building, with an additional $32,500 (6.5 percent) for complete architectural and engineering services of construction costs based on a $500,000 project.

Officials selected the Landmark proposal over one received from Hooker DeJong, of Muskegon, with the feasibility study priced at $8,500 and a fee of 8.5 percent of services on construction costs of a $500,000 project, Commissioner Mark Gregory told his fellow board members.

"The feasibility study will find out the best way to utilize the space available," he said.

County Coordinator Sue Vander Pol said the main differences between the two firms is Hooker DeJong does architectural and engineering, while Landmark Design performs only architectural services.

"Landmark would outsource the engineering portion of the work," she said. "We have worked with both of them on projects we have done before."

While the committee had not yet met or made a decision on the proposals from the two firms, committee members Gregory, Roger Elkins and Jack Nehmer wanted to get the process started.

"We are looking to save two weeks," Elkins said.

In the last few months, the committee and board of commissioners have expressed interest in exploring the following things for the annex building:

n changing the east entrance at the Annex building to a public entrance;

n using the north entrance for only probation and parole department and community corrections functions;

n the south entrance designed as an employee-only entrance;

n renovation of space for a waiting area and storage; and

n installation of an elevator.