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Dotti Owens, Ada County Coroner
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Future Ada County Coroner’s Office

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Dear Ada County Residents,

Thank you for visiting this webpage in regard to the future Ada County Coroner’s Office. As this facility is being created to serve the needs of so many, I hope the following information provides answers to your questions in regard to the overall process of researching, planning and constructing the future Ada County Coroner’s Office facility. 

The Ada County Coroner’s Office has a long history of operating out of buildings which were not intended for or suitably equipped for medicolegal death investigation, including the current facility, creating a multitude of issues for the staff of the Office and the citizens of Ada County. As your Coroner, I take my responsibility seriously of providing the highest quality standard of medicolegal death investigation to Ada County’s most vulnerable population, as well as the other counties throughout the State of Idaho who depend on the pathology services provided by my office. Through years of research and advocacy, the mission for an actual facility designed for medicolegal death investigation became a reality after a resolution approved from the Ada County Board of Commissioners in March 2019. This facility has been specifically  planned and designed for Ada County, and will serve the needs of the community for years to come.     

If you have any further questions in regard to this facility which are not addressed on this webpage, please let my office know so we can address your concerns.  I will continue to have this webpage updated with additional questions from the community.

Thank you,

Dotti Owens, M.A., D-ABMDI

Ada County Coroner

1996-Construction of the building at 5550 W. Morris Hill Rd. completed. Building was not owned by Ada County at this time and was designed for/functioned as a General Tire & Rubber Company. 1998-Ada County purchased the building at 5550 W. Morris Hill Rd. for the Ada County Records Retention Center. It also housed Elections and the Public Defender's Office. ~2000- The Ada County Coroner's Office transitioned to the building at 5550 W. Morris Hill Rd. No morgue facilities were available on site, and examinations were performed at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center. (Year of transition approximate.) 2002- Morgue facility addition completed at 5550 W. Morris Hill Rd. The facility was projected to function 20 years at Ada County's growth projections. March 2019- Resolution No. 2401 was passed by the Ada County Board of Commissioners creating a fund for the acquisition and construction of the Coroner's Facility. August 2019- Capital project construction fund for the acquisition of property/design/construction for a Coroner Facility included in the adopted Ada County Budget FY19-20. June 2020- Ada County closed on a property designated for the future Ada County Coroner's Office. The property is an empty lot located near DeMeyer Furniture & Mattress in Meridian, ID. October 2020- "Coroner Facility Project" financing closed and officially became of record. TBD- Facility construction begins. Spring 2022- Projected completion date of the future Ada County Coroner's Office.

Q. Why is Ada County building a facility for the Ada County Coroner’s Office?

There is a multitude of reasons Ada County needs a new facility to properly serve its residents, however, most of these reasons stem from one word, growth. The Ada County Coroner’s Office has strongly supported and advocated for a facility with the capacity to meet the current and future needs of Ada County. The current building housing the Ada County Coroner’s Office was built in 1966 and was not intended for the purpose of medicolegal death investigation.  Ada County acquired the building in 1998, and morgue facilities were not added to the building until 2002. Those renovations and morgue facilities (with the Ada County population growth projections at that time) were projected to no longer meet the demands of Ada County by 2022.  While the building was able to be adapted to a makeshift Coroner’s Office in 2002 with renovations, after a thorough evaluation the building was deemed to lack the space to be renovated again to meet the needs of Ada County.  As Ada County residents are well aware, Ada County has grown exponentially and greatly exceeded any previous growth projections causing the current facility to experience chronic capacity issues. These capacity issues endanger the Office’s ability to conduct medicolegal death investigations in a timely manner, and fulfill the statutory duties outlined by the State of Idaho.

Not only is this facility critical to serve the residents of Ada County, but also fulfills a critical need within the State of Idaho. At this time, the Ada County Coroner’s Office is one of few Ada County entities which generates revenue for Ada County by providing pathology services through contracted agreements with jurisdictions throughout the state. Providing these services is a mutually beneficial agreement. Counties around the State of Idaho receive quality, affordable and accessible pathology services while the revenue generated offsets the operational costs of the Ada County Coroner’s Office. As the Ada County Coroner’s Office’s cases increase, the current facility will eventually be unable to manage the capacity for these additional decedents in turn causing hardship for counties around the state while also losing revenue.

In summary, Ada County is building a facility for the Ada County Coroner’s Office because a new facility is a complete necessity for the residents of Ada County in order to continue receiving consistent quality services. Additionally, as the only Coroner’s Office in Idaho with Board Certified Forensic Pathologists, there is an inherent responsibility to ensure the facility is also able to maintain services for counties serviced throughout Idaho.  Every decedent under coroner jurisdiction deserves a thorough medicolegal death investigation, a timely determination of cause and manner of death and an experienced staff who can assist their loved ones in one of the most difficult times of their lives. This facility will allow the Ada County Coroner’s Office to put all of their focus on their duties, and remove the burden of constantly struggling to maintain quality services in the setting of having mores cases than the facility is able to support.

Q. Would it be cheaper to just expand the current Coroner’s Office?

Renovating the current facility was thoroughly researched by Ada County, and because of the specialized nature of the storage spaces/workspaces needed and the lack of space in the building and surrounding the building, renovating the current building was significantly more expensive than starting with a new site.

The 2019-2020 Ada County Adopted Budget (when the fund for acquiring property for the new facility was approved) offered the following assessment of the current facility from Commissioner Visser: The current Coroner facility was originally built in 1966 and is significantly undersized for the Coroner’s caseload. The facility offers disjointed and inefficient office space and is incapable of accommodating future growth.”

Q. How much will the facility cost to build?

After thorough research, the projected budget for the future facility is approximately $35 million.  This budget includes the cost of the property, the design and the construction of the building.  It also includes the extremely specialized storage spaces, equipment and standard office equipment necessary for daily operations of a Coroner’s Office.

Q. How do you know this facility will meet Ada County’s needs for the future?

Multiple facilities around the country with similar demographics were contacted and assessed for specific variables such as the technical specifications of the facility, average caseload, staffing requirements and population. This information was analyzed and compared to Ada County’s demographics and growth projections in order to predict the technical specifications for the future facility.

Q. Where is the future Coroner facility going to be located? Why?

The future Ada County Coroner’s Office is going to be located near the intersection of Franklin Road and Eagle Road in Meridian, ID. Ada County purchased a piece of property in the form of an empty lot next to DeMeyer Furniture & Mattress where facility construction is estimated to be completed by Spring 2022.

The location of the facility is integral for daily operations. Since the ACCO serves the entirety of Ada County, a central location was intentionally chosen to ensure efficient response times to scenes throughout the jurisdiction.  Not only does access to two main roads and a close proximity freeway entrance assist in shortening response times, but also creates more options for routes if certain roadways are congested or blocked. Shortening daily travel times to scene locations allows staff members more time for other duties, and creates the potential for staff to increase the overall amount of calls they are able to respond to in a shift.

Additionally, in the event of a larger scale emergency situation these location factors allow the ACCO to better fulfill the responsibility of managing deaths in a respectful and timely manner.