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Stark County commissioners move forward with future courthouse expansion

The Stark County Commission reviewed the results of a "Phase 1" pre-design study for a new addition to the Stark County Courthouse on Tuesday at a regular meeting.

2176575+1202 Courthouse 1.jpg
Rendering courtesy of JLG Architects

The Stark County Commission reviewed the results of a “Phase 1” pre-design study for a new addition to the Stark County Courthouse on Tuesday at a regular meeting.

Rob Remark, along with other employees of JLG Architects, presented two sets of digitally-rendered images of what the courthouse with the new addition could look like. One of them showed an addition with two stories, while the other showed it with three stories. JLG’s Scott Jordan-Denny explained that adding a third floor to the plans could serve as additional space for future expansion.

The addition would be to the west side of the current building and run parallel with Sims Street. A windowed connection would go between it and the current building.

“The first major significant goal was really looking at circulation,” Remark said, referring to the types of traffic that come through the courthouse.

One concern previously raised by commissioners was that the new addition should separate where prisoners are led within the courthouse to courtrooms. Prisoners currently are brought in through the main lobby in full view of public.

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One feature of the new addition includes a sally port, where law enforcement vehicles can drive up and drop off prisoners at a reserved entrance. The prisoners would then be led into an elevator and through a length of enclosed hallways to the courtrooms.

Remark also said he and his team took care in designing the addition’s exterior in a way that would complement the current building’s historical aesthetic.

With the addition, JLG presented floor plans with some of the county offices shuffled from their current locations in the courthouse.

The state’s attorney’s office would be moved to the second floor of the addition from the third floor of the current building, while the judges’ offices would occupy the entirety of the third floor.

Jordan-Denny said the floor would be left as a “shell” without being finished, which could be revisited when the county found a need for the space.

Commissioner Russ Hoff asked how stripped down the floor would be.

“It would be pretty minimal,” Jordan-Denny said, adding that the floor would have no ceiling, no carpet and minimal utilities installed.

The commissioners reasoned that it was worth going forward now with a three-storey addition rather than being forced to add the spare floor down the road.

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“I’ll guarantee, we will find a reason to use it,” Hoff said.

A two-floor addition would cost the county around $5.5 million, Jordan-Denny said. Factoring a third floor into the project would add an additional $925,000.

“From my perspective, it all comes together real well,” Commissioner Ken Zander said.

Other commissioners showed approval of what was presented.

“So far, I really like the design, the concept, the plan,” Hoff said. “To me it looks great.”

Zander made a point of saying that all the funding for the addition and remodeling would come from capital improvement funds, as well as possible grants applied for the the state court system.

The commissioners agreed to let JLG move forward with Phase 2 of the project with laying out the schematics of the structure.

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