City officials and project planners walked the public through final conceptual plans for Cottage Grove's new city government complex Tuesday, laying out designs for a building that officials say plans for the city's long-term growth and that could be open by the fall of 2012.

A mix of supporters and skeptics of the estimated $16 million project packed the current Cottage Grove City Hall for an open forum on the plans and a presentation from Wold Architects and Engineers, the project's designers.The plans presented showed a 67,000-square foot facility that drastically improves facilities for the Cottage Grove Public Safety Department, with expanded evidence, booking, interview and detention areas.

They would replace the department's current home, a cramped, outmoded basement headquarters that has been expanded upon a handful of times since the mid-1960s.

"There are immediate needs," Public Safety Director Craig Woolery said following Tuesday's open house. "We could go in that building today and it would make a world of difference."

Set to be constructed near an existing Washington County satellite facility on Ravine Parkway, project designer John McNamara said the building would utilize views of the neighboring ravine and the surrounding landscape. Mayor Myron Bailey also reiterated the city's goal to use local materials in the building when possible, and said officials would strive for sustainability in the city hall complex -- including the possible use of a geothermal heating and cooling system.

Bailey on Tuesday also said the city would begin forming a committee to plan a veterans memorial for the building campus.

The Cottage Grove City Council is set to vote on the final designs at its April 6 meeting. The council is scheduled to discuss financing options for the project at a June meeting.

Groundbreaking on the site is scheduled for September.

Check swcbulletin.com for more on Cottage Grove's designs for a new city hall and public safety facility.