By JIM MAURER
Constructing the new court building on a parking lot on West Main Cross Street offers several advantages over attaching the structure to the County Courthouse, according to a comparison offered by Commissioner Tim Bechtol.
The free-standing structure would allow court business to continue in the current probate/juvenile court during construction of the new building on a lot at 201 W. Main Cross St. That site also would not require City of Findlay approval regarding any slghtline obstructions and would allow the county to preserve the core of the current historic court building, which could be used as a records retention facility, Bechtol stated in the comparison, which was made available at the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday.
Bechtol, principal architect with Peterman Associates, Findlay, until 2016 when he was appointed as county commissioner, provided positives and negatives for both locations.
At Tuesday’s meeting, a seven-member panel of county officials voted 6-1 for the Main Cross Street location over previous plans to build on the site of the current building and attach the new structure to the courthouse.
Bechtol, Commissioner Mark Gazarek, Clerk of Courts Cathy Prosser Wilcox, Sheriff Mike Heldman, Probate/Juvenile Court Judge Kristen Johnson, and Common Pleas Court Judge Reginald Routson voted for the West Main Street location. Commissioner Brian Robertson was the only negative vote.
Bechtol said the free-standing site would also maintain north/south pedestrian access between Dorney Plaza and West Main Cross Street, allow view of the courthouse to not be blocked “as much or at all” depending on placement of new building, and does not “force” architectural design of new building to blend with any adjacent “historical precedent.”
Among the negatives, Bechtol said, is the Main Cross Street site would require separate security entrances for the new building and the courthouse and limit or eliminate any future expansion of the Hancock County Justice Center to the north and restricts any long-term future use of the parking lot for county office space.
Attaching the new building to the courthouse would allow the two buildings to share a security station and preserve the parking spaces which would be lost if the parking lot site is used, according to Bechtol.
In December before the vote to change the site, Garmann/Miller Architects, of Minster, presented a timeline which called for construction of the 27,000-square-foot building, estimated at $8 million, to begin in July and take 14 months to complete.