The Pulaski County Commissioners have attempted to provide some clarification about the future of the County Courthouse. In a press release read during Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners said they’ve been presented with a number of issues with the current building that have to be addressed.
“Those issues include the Americans with Disabilities Act;” Commissioner Kenny Becker read, “the ability to secure a single point of entry and provide adequate security to satisfy the Indiana Supreme Court order of September 13, 2013; the structural defects including excess moisture permeating the structure.” Other concerns cited include the failing structure at the staircases that lead to the entrances, substandard wiring and fire alarm systems, and the “excessive cost” of heating and cooling.
The press release notes that the former group of commissioners got a blueprint for a renovation of the courthouse. “This plan had been passed by the Commissioners, at the time, but was not received well by the public or the members of the Council at the time, [and] therefore was not pursued,” Becker continued. “The problems that existed then continue to increase in severity which prompted the Commissioners to consider other options which include the addition to the Pulaski County Justice Center.” The commissioners hired a firm called Rowland Designs to draw up the plans to replace the current courthouse with the Justice Center addition.
The press release stresses that no decision has been made to move ahead with either plan and no steps have been taken towards any project. The commissioners say any discussion on the courthouse will take place during public meetings in which the issue is clearly stated on the agenda.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner Mike McClure suggested that if they eventually do decide to add onto the Justice Center, they could look into incorporating some environmentally-friendly features. “Going green is a big issue everywhere, and I think we need to consider going green, especially on a new project, as much as possible,” McClure said. “See if there’s any grants out there available, like if we’d add onto the justice building, to put in solar panels for energy and also make a garden up there, where the inmates could have vegetables.”
Dr. Natalie Daily Federer, who helps get grants for the county’s criminal justice programs, agreed to work with Sheriff Jeff Richwine to look for funding opportunities.
Richwine also reminded the commissioners that he’s working to get grant funding for a proposed work release program to be located in Justice Center basement. But he said those plans depend on the commissioners’ larger facilities plan. The commissioners stressed that they don’t have a timeframe yet for when they’ll make a decision.
Here’s the full press release presented during Tuesday’s meeting:
The members of the Board of Commissioners desire to collectively make a statement concerning the social media posts, articles, and other public comments that have been made about the considerations for the Pulaski County Courthouse. The current Board of Commissions was presented the issue of how to best deal with the current courthouse given a number of issues. Those issues include: Americans with Disabilities Act compliance; the ability to secure a single point of entry and provide adequate security to satisfy the Indiana Supreme Court order of September 13, 2013; the structural defects including excess moisture permeating the structure; the failing structure at the elevated staircase entryways; the substandard wiring; excessive cost of heating and cooling a very large open air space with aging systems; the substandard fire alarm and fire suppression system; and a variety of smaller issues that are too numerous to list. In an effort to consider all viable options, the Board of Commissioners hired Rowland Designs, Inc. to draft plans to replace the old courthouse structure with an addition to the Pulaski County Justice Center. Three years ago, the Commissioners had acquired a blueprint for a plan to renovate the old courthouse structure to address all of the stated concerns. This plan had been passed by the Commissioners, at the time, but was not well received by the public or the members of the Council at the time, and therefore was not pursued. The problems that existed then continue to increase in severity which prompted the Commissioners to consider other options which includes the addition to the Pulaski County Justice Center.
No decision has been made regarding which plan, if any, will be chosen by the Commissioners. Any discussion about potential construction or de-construction projects involving the Courthouse will be had at public meetings where the issue is clearly stated on the agenda. To be clear, no project of any kind has been decided upon and no steps have been taken towards any project involving the current courthouse other than standard maintenance projects.