Oct 4th 2017 | Posted in Opportunities by Kristin Gordon

The oldest courthouse in the United States is the Queen Anne’s County Courthouse. Built in 1708, it is located in Maryland and is currently a museum. The oldest active courthouse is the King William County Courthouse. It was built in 1725 and it is located in Virginia.  

Due to the age and design of some historical courthouses, they are either getting redeveloped for some other need, refurbished or torn down. Due to age and size, sometimes it is best to build a new courthouse. There are city, county and state courthouses that handle an assortment of cases throughout the year for those in need of due process. But before justice can be served, the roof might need replacing, the building might need to be expanded or the entire structure might need a complete top-to-bottom makeover.  

king william 359357 960 720 Opportunities are constant to keep court in session

King William Courthouse

In September, the Judicial Conference of the United States approved an updated list of courthouse construction priorities. The Fiscal Year 2019 Courthouse Project Priorities (CPP) list is a two-part document that includes projects for which the Judiciary will request funding in its annual budget submission and a prioritized list of future courthouse construction project requirements. The fiscal year 2019 funding priorities are Harrisburg, Pa.; Huntsville, Ala.; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Conference added McAllen, Texas to its list of future funding priorities, which also include Chattanooga, Tenn.; Norfolk, Va. and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Here is the fiscal year 2017 CPP list that was released in 2015.  

The CPP is based on the Asset Management Planning (AMP) process, which was adopted by the Conference in 2008. The AMP assesses all federal courthouses to determine current and future needs, considering factors including a building’s condition, functionality, security, compliance with space standards, courtroom and chambers needs and caseload growth. 

The 26-member Judicial Conference is the policy-making body for the federal court system.  The Conference meets twice a year to consider administrative and policy issues affecting the court system, and to make recommendations to Congress concerning legislation involving the Judicial Branch. 

Tuscarawas County commissioners approved the request of project bids for a $1.6 million dome restoration project at the county courthouse. Bids are schedule to be opened Oct. 30. The dome restoration will include replacing the cupola with a statue of the Three Ladies of Justice. The face of the clock needs to be replaced, and there will still be a place of honor for the existing eagle that overlooks downtown New Philadelphia in Ohio. 

The La Porte County courthouse in Michigan City is under discussion. Plans call for demolition of an existing add-on adjacent to the courthouse and construction of the new facility before renovations begin in the interior of the existing courthouse. A new facility adjoining the courthouse on the southeast corner would provide handicap-accessible facilities such as restrooms and elevators along with additional room for county offices. The project would also correct heating and air-conditioning problems, electrical shortcomings and security issues in the more than 100-year-old building. The cost of the project could be between $14 million and $22 million. There is currently no timeline for requesting bids.  

The General Services Administration (GSA) announced last week that it would look for alternative sites for a new courthouse in Des Moines, Iowa. City leaders turned down the GSA’s first choice, the former home of the Riverfront YMCA in downtown, for the $137 million project. Other options on the GSA’s list included expanding the existing federal courthouse or building at a site just south of East MLK Jr. Parkway on the east bank of the river. The two sites might be tough sells since both have a history of environmental contamination. 

The GSA also announced a proposed site in Greenville, Miss. that has been chosen for a new $40.1 million federal courthouse. The courthouse would be built on a vacant lot in downtown Greenville where a department store used to stand. It’s a short distance from the current federal courthouse that is considered outdated and not secure enough. The GSA made the announcement on Sept. 24 and now there is a 30-day period for public comments. If the land is acquired, construction could begin in March 2019 and the courthouse could open by autumn 2021. 

The Maury County Commission agreed to pay for draft plans for the construction of a courthouse in Mt. Pleasant, Tenn. The building is planned to be located at Mt. Pleasant’s main thoroughfare at 128 Bluegrass Ave., a 1.5-acre site owned by the city. It will replace the 117-year-old Edward T. Workman building. The new facility will be built using an estimated $2.5 million in litigation tax revenue. 

The Osceola County Board of commissioners received plans to expand courthouse facilities in Florida. The first plan was a renovation and expansion of the Annex Building. This would include a single point of entry for the public with an increased security presence, a separate staff entrance, larger courtrooms, new holding cells, a vehicle sally port for prisoner transport along with a dedicated prisoner elevator to a district courtroom on the second floor. Estimated cost for the expansion and renovation is $2.9 million. In addition, this plan includes an expansion of the courthouse and also calls for a single public entry point, new holding cells, and a dedicated prisoner elevator, at a cost of $1.05 million. 

The second plan is a multi-phase project that would begin with the renovation of the annex building, which would address the primary goal of a single point of entry for the public with security screening at $500,000. The third is the expansion of the current county courthouse. It would gather all departments currently in the annex under a single roof by expanding courthouse facilities into the south parking lots for $9 million. 

Codington County commissioners approved a 2018 budget of $12,372,618 at a meeting last week in South Dakota. The number is a 16.8 percent increase over 2017, but that rise is due to the estimated $1,344,496 that will be spent from the county’s $5.7 million building fund for courthouse renovations. The renovation will give the courthouse a second jury courtroom and place all but one of the courthouse offices on the same floor. County officials have been consulting with an architect on a plan. If the renovation goes as projected, the county would still have more than $4 million that could go toward a new county jail.

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