Wednesday, May 27, 2015

26 May 2015 Annex Update on Alternatives Presentation Dearborn County Commissioners and Council Joint Session

26 May 2015 Annex Update on Alternatives Presentation Dearborn County Commissioners and Council Joint Session

Commissioners sat in their regular seats and Council sat at tables facing them in the front of the room. he presentation was to the side of the room. Two DLZ Architects reps and Brad and Alyssa Rullman presented for Maxwell Construction. 


Lynch motioned to accept it and Little seconded. Accepted.
Lynch also went on about how and why they hired Maxwell.
Baudendistel said he had to file it with the Clerks office and the state. 
[NOTE: Lyness continued to sit at the presentation and ask questions during the presentation. ]

DLZ gave presentation of the project.
In the first alternate- They removed the basement other than the elevator etc. The rest is on slab and infill added.

There is 5.5 and 1/2 inch difference in height.between two buildings.
The Courthouse 2nd floor is same except to address the jury room issue for circuit court.
Third floor of courthouse has magistrate court and there is no 3rd floor on the annex.
Eric Ratz of DLZ talked about another option for exterior. They propose something that does not compete with the courthouse but fits with it. They mass the windows and size  them to complement the courhouse. It has one story columns. Using same materials as courthouse and fenestration.

Brad Rullman of Maxwell went over the pricing. Partial basement deducts $500,000 ( the basement is about 6,000 sq ft. The infill eats up the rest of the “savings”
East entry modified with full basement gives us $11,040,000 price tag
Rpunded column glass entry with full basement- $11,200,000 price tag
Greek Revival with full basement- $11,400,000 price tag
Parking concerns- completing paving between the jail and EMA building- got 60 more spaces. There is no additional personnel and we have 127 parking spaces total. 
The commissioners meeting room will go to 1st floor annex and have public entered sequestered at night meetings in the lobby area for security. 

McHenry said that they asked about the feedback about the security from staff dept heads and he had not gotten that to the council. He would get that to them soon. Council let him know they already had it. [NOTE: I had requested this information under Open Door Law and Public Access. I passed on copies and Council received them well in advance of the meeting via one of their Council members.]

They said each dept averages about 6-7,000 sq ft. 
The building will last a long long time. It will be here a 100 years per Ratz.
New expansion is 
27,135 sq ft in existing courthouse ( net is17,000 + sq ft)
36,000 sq ft in annex with full basement.
Circulation can be 25-35% of the total.

It is intended to enter thru the annex entry. Staff could enter separate entrance. 
Construction itself is 17-18 months. With bidding etc it is 2 years. 
Randall stressed that the court rooms are modest. They are large enough to hold felony jury trials. [NOTE: This was later questioned by one of the judges- as the jury can overhear the attorney client conversations etc. Mistrial issues. The answer may lie in enclosing the jury in a soundproof section and turning microphones on and off. Or using the basement space for a large courtroom???]

Lynch asked the 2 judges- Sally McLaughlin (formerly Blankenship) and Jon Cleary to comment.

Judge Sally McLaughlin said that she keeps a B-17 airplane picture that her father flew as gunner WW II in her office to remind her of the reason they do this. The people who come to the courthouse are important. She said the first courthouse has been here almost 144 years, 1871.The physical structure has to serve the needs of the people. 1871 schoolhouses don’t work for us now. Neither do these old courthouses. 

Disabled people have basement access- they need better access. Jury room is not good for the community. Only one bathroom - no male and female bathroom for the jury.
Prisoner access to the public. No private space for people to speak with their attorney. 
Our citizens deserve something better.

Victims of crimes. Especially children with no privacy. 
Entryway now has no information desk. 

Judge Sally has been prosecutor and then judge and these plans have been talked about for 15 years. She said  Maxwell has done the best plans. She is concerned with cutting space from the entryway- they need security and information out there. This is a fire hazard with the current courtrooms. She thinks the 3 judges work together well. They made it work pretty well so as not to cancel jury trials. Fair and impartial juries are hard to have if they can overhear conversations at the attorney and prosecutor tables. 

She said we could share some of these spaces for trials. The trouble is that they cannot predict how long they last. They schedule 20-30 jury trials per month per judge. No they don’t always go to trial. [NOTE: In fact very few go to trial.] Jury trials don’t happen often but when they do you have to have the space. 

What we are going to do will last at least 75 years. I am not ready to say 100. We the judges are inconsequential- it is about the people who will use it. 

She wrapped it up with saying  people deserving dignity, privacy, and right to fair and impartial jury of their peers. She said we need a leader to get this moving. She said she could work in the same space for another 10 years and be happy- but the people wouldn’t be. 
[NOTE: Judge Sally has been the most vocal of the judges regarding the space issues over the years, and to be fair she has had the least efficient space.]

Judge Jon Cleary said the issue is space. Mistrial motions occur because of small space and the jurors can hear things they should not hear. He gave stats:  From 1990s to present in the county there were 285 to 710 new felony cases. Indiana went  from 49,543 new felony cases to  now having 66,324.
Dearborn County has 149% increase and Indiana has only 34% increase.
Cleary said he did not know why the increase was that way. 
[NOTE: There was no reason given for that big difference in the felonies for our county except the perfect storm of casinos, tri state area, and heroin etc. Though several other counties in Indiana have the same geography and  riverboat casino.]

It is a space issue and a pride issue. Courthouses in a community say a lot about the community. Cleary is concerned about 1200 sq ft being adequate for courtroom. How to get a fair trial seems to be is biggest concern. Council asked if DLZ used other courtrooms to get adequate space. [NOTE: This was not answered well- and it seems that if we have an experience architect- we should easily know the answer to that question. ]

Prosecutor Aaron Negangard wanted to speak. He said he was very fortunate to work with 3 judges who were absolutely committed to fair trials. When I sat on Council years ago we were committed to the county having a third court. He went to the state as a COUNCIL member when he was also deputy prosecutor then and testified to that to the legislature. He raised his voice saying he went SEVERAL times. [NOTE: Negangard benefitted from this deal- We got an extra court. His boss, Sally Dierking (who remarried and became Judge Sally Blankenship) also was named the new judge for the new court. This opened the door for Negangard to be appointed to her position as prosecutor.]
Negangard said they started saving money right then for that. He resumed pleading his case saying - They had a statutory commitment to provide offices for them. They have a legal liability and the lawsuit will make this $11.4 million price look like a drop in the bucket! We have fire issues and disability issues. Joe Johns was stuck in an elevator for 3.5 hours. He is a paraplegic in a wheelchair and is a well respected attorney. If he wasn’t such a nice guy- he could have sued us already. This is not a majestic solution- it is ONLY $160,000 to have the nice entrance. People need to know where to go in. [NOTE: A nice sign might do the trick.
As for security- He gave a story of a human trafficking case (and details which I will omit here.) He talks about how close the defendant in that case will be to the jurors. 

His office will be a SMALL CORNER OFFICE and he is OK with that. He serves the public. What about lone shooters and security. Other communities smaller than us do it. “I am proud of the fact that we send more people to jail than other counties!
That’s how we keep it safe here.”

Hoosier Square was a bandaid- because of bathroom sharing with Hep C drug testers and kids who take tours. Negangard was on a roll and McHenry asked him twice to wrap it up.

Negangard finished with saying - This project is SAVING as it is $20 million less than the original $44 million proposed for jail and courthouse too. [NOTE: The Vieste proposal using the NW Quadrant farms to pay for it all was proposed before the economy tanked. The price of construction and real estate was significantly different from today. As we learned at the Council meeting after this one- the jail census is running lower and they are looking to take in outside inmates. So we are entering the jail BUSINESS. And if we have such high crime rates due to casinos- shouldn;t these rate be dropping as the casino patrons drop off due to Cincinnati getting a casino also?]

The next meeting for Commissioners will be an evening meeting June 2nd and the public can speak. 

Kraus asked about financing- and they will have to discuss that. 

Meeting ended at 7:20 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"A nice sign may do the trick...." Ha! Funny.AND true.