A study on the possible preservation of the Pulaski County Courthouse has begun. Last week, representatives from architectural firm Rowland Design and Indiana Landmarks joined county officials for a tour and discussion of the building.
That’s according to Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer, who’s serving as the county’s liaison to Indiana Landmarks. “I think we checked every single room in that building,” Origer told the county commissioners Monday, “except for the old EMA office space, all the vaults, got pictures, saw some of the floor issues, smelled some of the issues in the basement, some of the cracks where walls are separating – a really thorough walk-through – went up to the attic, found that we still have Pinto Trial files up there.”
Origer said the group also toured the upper level of the Justice Center, and Rowland used a drone to get some pictures of the courthouse’s roof.
In addition to the tour, the group also got input from various department heads and had an hour-long meeting with Commissioner Jerry Locke, Council Member Kathi Thompson, and Treasurer Teresa Bryant. “[They] discussed some of the big issues, beyond what they could see, especially security-related issues,” Origer said.
He said last week’s discussions highlighted some shortcomings in the preliminary plan that Rowland put together last year, which involved adding onto the Justice Center and moving several county offices there from the courthouse. “Eric Rowland did note that the plans drawn late last year do not leave adequate room if the Circuit Court is moved out of the courthouse and into the Justice Center. There’s not enough room for either, I think, the judge’s staff or adequate room for attorney meeting space, as those plans are drawn.”
Origer said that plan may also not leave enough room for storage. However, he added that Rowland has agreed to come up with firmer cost estimates for its previous plan, for a better comparison with the detailed courthouse study the firm is currently working on.
Origer told the commissioners that his impression so far is that many of the biggest costs involved in renovating the courthouse would also be there with new construction. “The windows are probably not what should have been put in in the first place, and the seal is bad on a lot of them. New building, we might not have as many windows, but we’re still going to be putting in windows,” he said. “HVAC, it’s not central air. The system itself needs to be replaced. Again, we might not have to heat and to cool as much space, but we’re still going to need new HVAC regardless of which way we go.”
Commissioner Locke noted that Rowland plans to be able to present sound numbers within two months.