(Crystal A. Proxmire, Oct. 2, 2013)
After twelve years of setting aside a small portion of revenue from tickets to pay for it, Judge Joseph Longo of the 43rd District Court was happy to see ground break on major renovations to the courthouse at 305 E. 9 Mile in Ferndale.
He and other city leaders donned hard hats and golden-colored shovels Wednesday evening for the official groundbreaking. Already the half-century-old building looked changed, with the 1960’s style facade removed and the parking lot torn up. Plans call for an extension of the building around the side that will provide extra storage space, plus allow for a proper entrance way and a hallway with room for courthouse guests to sit. The work area will be reconfigured to save staff time and headaches, and changes will be made to make the facility more handicapped accessible. Space will be added between the entrance and the courtroom, making it easier to clear visitors through the metal detectors, and making the courtroom more secure. There will also be more space for attorneys to meet with clients.
Work has also begun on the police station across the street. Contractors are modernizing the sally port so that current cars can fit to bring in prisoners. They are also fixing ventilation issues, rewiring the building for modern computer and electrical needs, and creating more secure spaces for the public and prisoners. The lobby will also be given a facelift to provide a more welcoming space for visitors.
Both renovation projects are being paid for with ticket revenue that had been saved over the past 12 years. Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter thanked Longo and former city leaders for their “foresight” in setting aside the money so that the $2 million project could be done without any bonds or money taken from the city’s general fund.
Ferndale Police Chief Tim Collins also spoke at the groundbreaking. “This is not to make things nicer for the officers. It will. But really it’s going to make it a safer building. It will make our sally port or transportation of prisoners, and the pubic [safer] because in the old system we did have civilians intermingled with prisoners, walking in the same hallways. It really was a bad thing for security. With this new facility we’ll be much safer, much cleaner. Trust me we’ll keep it that way,” Collins said.
“This day is at least 12 years in the making,” Mayor Coulter said. “It’s more than that, but I say 12 years because we’ve been collecting a part of the fines on tickets in town for 12 years to pay for it, so I want to thank all the speeders in town that helped contribute to this day.”
The project is expected to be completed in the spring. In the meantime, court office staff is working out of an office up the street, and court appearances are being held in the city hall chambers. Police work is also being done out of city hall, and prisoners are being housed in Hazel Park.
Previous Ferndale 115 News stories document the process of selecting the project manager, as well as the needs brought forth by Judge Longo and Police Chief Collins in favor of the renovations. Check out our previous stories at: