Tina McGrady | [email protected]
As many county officeholders begin to pack up their belongings and move to the newly created government center on the city’s north side, Montgomery County Commissioners are considering the future of the current courthouse.
On Monday, Eric Rattz from the Indianapolis-based engineering firm of DLZ outlined several proposed interior and exterior renovations for the 147-year-old structure as it prepares for its future use. The clerk, prosecutor and courts are expected to remain and occupy the entire building once the assessor, auditor, recorder and treasurer move to the new government center. The offices from the courthouse’s first floor as well as those from the South Boulevard Office Building will move to the new government center on Constitution Row. The county spent $5.5 million renovating the former Williamsburg Health Care building for the centralized county office building.
County administrator Tom Klein reported that the South Boulevard offices were moving this week, and others will follow over the next two weeks. All offices should be under one roof at the new government center by the end of the month.
Rattz told commissioners the feasibility study he delivered is a living document, and can evolve and change to meet the county’s needs.
“Your courthouse is absolutely gorgeous, it is a fantastic building,” he said. “But as all of you know that once you walk up close to the building there are just some improvements that need to be done on the overall building, both on the exterior and to the interior and we need to maximize some of your plans for the building.”
Rattz said DLS meet with many of county officeholders and staff and went over every square inch of the building as part of the feasibility study.
As outlined in the study, interior projects include potentially moving Superior Court II to the main floor and constructing a new courtroom, court administration, jury room and toilets; adding a Magistrate Court to the third floor with a full renovation of the courtroom and court administration; and making renovations to create office space for the Clerk on the first floor and the Title IV-D office on the second floor.
Other interior renovation work includes adding new public toilet rooms on each level, adding a staff break room and new staff toilet rooms as well as renovating and enlarging all jury rooms.
The interior renovations are estimated at $1.5 million to $1.8 million.
Exterior construction projects potentially include: repairing, cleaning and tuck pointing stones and site walls; adding building sealants; repairing the water infiltration; replacing entryways and vestibule doors; painting doors and frames; and making roof repairs.
Exterior renovations are estimated at $1.4 million.
Rattz recommended the county add an additional 25% to the total costs for contingencies, which could push costs to $4.5 million.
“I don’t want to be the commissioner that half way does this, so I’m not saying that money isn’t something to consider because it is, it’s all of our tax dollars, but finding the right solution for the next 200 years, I think is the most important thing,” commission president John Frey said.
In other business, commissioners:
• Recognized three county employees for their exceptional service. Awards were presented to Jennifer Rivers from the mapping department; Earlene Garrard from the assessor’s office; and Lori Dossett, executive assistant for the commissioners. Awards will be presented quarterly.
• Proclaimed the first week of April as the “Week of the Young Child.” The annual celebration is sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the world’s largest early childhood education association, with nearly 60,000 members and a network of 52 Affiliates. The purpose is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.
• Approved a request by Public Defender Bryan Donaldson to sign a contract for attorney Robert Poynter to provide public defender services in the amount of $16,000 with no limit on the number of cases.
• Approved a contract for $3,750 with the advisory firm, First Person, to conduct a compensation analysis for the Emergency Management Agency director’s position.
• Approved the second reading of an ordinance establishing a Law Enforcement Training Fund for the distribution of funds awarded the county sheriff by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.