Downtown justice center in the works
The new justice building would cost between $5 million and $7 million, officials said.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- City council will consider legislation Wednesday to permit the board of control to start negotiating land purchase for a new justice facility.
The eventual goal of a $5 million to $7 million building to house the city's municipal court, clerk of court's office, police department and city prosecutor's office is years away, said Carmen S. Conglose Jr., the city's deputy director of public works.
Those departments are housed in city hall, which is about 90 years old, on Boardman Street.
The justice facility would be located near the Mahoning County jail bordering Wood Street on the north, Fifth Avenue on the west, Rayen Avenue on the south and Belmont Avenue on the east.
A court facilities committee suggested the location more than a year ago.
Cappy Realty Inc. recently completed an appraisal of the properties. Conglose and other city officials didn't know the appraised amount.
Councilman Rufus Hudson, D-2nd and chairman of council's buildings and grounds committee, couldn't be reached Monday for the amount.
There are about 50 to 60 parcels of property on the proposed justice facility site, Conglose said.
The city's municipal court judges have collected close to $1 million in court fees specifically to pay for this project, said Judge Robert P. Milich. That money could be used to buy properties for the facility, he said.
"We've been looking to move since the late '90s," Judge Milich said.
The city will look at a variety of sources to fund the building's construction, Conglose said.
Even under a best-case scenario, it would take two to four years to raise the money to construct the building, he said.
"There's been no funds identified for actual construction," Conglose said.
If the project moves forward, it would be done in stages with the judges probably moving to the new facility first, Conglose and Judge Milich said.
"The first phase is acquiring the property," the judge said. "Space is part of our problem. Our needs don't meet Ohio Supreme Court standards. We have half the floor space we need. Also, security is a nightmare. When it was built, security wasn't an issue."
Also, city magistrates have to use the courtroom of one of the three judges to hold court, Judge Milich said.
"This facility isn't conducive to doing business," the judge said Monday in his chambers. "Also, there are health issues. People are getting asthma-type illnesses from the dirt and dust and from who knows what kind of toxic materials that are in the walls."