New courthouse facility raises problems

By Kelly Ducote, The Observer February 20, 2014 07:38 am

The effort to construct a new circuit court facility in Union County has run into several challenges.

Union County Commissioners at their Wednesday meeting discussed options with dealing with the problems, which include the location of Shelter From the Storm and parking.

After the county signed a contract with the Department of Justice for the project's funding, Commissioner Bill Rosholt said he and Judge Russ West met with Shelter From the Storm employees to discuss the shelter being relocated as one option for the new facility would place the new building where the shelter is now. Following that discussing, shelter director Teresa Crouser sent commissioners a letter laying out concerns with having to move.

During Wednesday's meeting, Crouser said she understands that county is working against a tight deadline but that the shelter was not involved in any discussions prior to signing the DOJ contract, which stipulates that the court facility be constructed on the county campus. The contract also requires the county to have a site plan ready by October of this year.

"Our position is that we cannot move," Crouser told commissioners.

The tight timeframe for the project, commissioners said, means they also have to get going on making sure they meet city development standards, especially for parking. If they cannot, they may need to apply for variances, a process that could take several months. The county is also exploring the idea of vacating K Avenue between 5th and 6th streets.

Union County Planning Director Hanley Jenkins laid out six options for the facility, all of which have their pros and cons, he said. The board of commissioners is expected to make a decision on which option they prefer at their next meeting on March 5.

See more in Friday's edition of The Observer.