FERNDALE — Ferndale City Hall is about to become a crowded place.
With 12 years of saving money now in the books, plans to renovate the 43rd District Courthouse and the Ferndale police station will begin at the end of the summer with police and court personnel moving into City Hall, 300 E. Nine Mile Road, within the next couple of weeks.
Police personnel will be housed in the bottom floor of City Hall, Judge Joseph Longo will conduct court hearings in the City Council chambers and most court personnel will work in a building made available to the city by Credit Union ONE on East Nine Mile Road.
“This (court) building is so non-conducive to the public coming in and efficiently moving cases, and it’s not (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant,” Longo said. “All in all, we are excited to have the building outfitted as a court instead of trying to make a mattress warehouse work.”
The courthouse was used as a mattress factory warehouse in the late 1970s, but it has not provided enough room for court personnel to conduct business, Longo said. The building lacks enough space to separate witnesses and defendants, and the lobby only holds about 10 people.
No tax money is being used to make the renovations, however, as the roughly $2 million construction will be paid for with money raised from traffic fines. The city has saved the money for 12 years and now feels it has enough to complete the construction.
“We are not using any general fund dollars — it is all from fines — and we are now at a point we think we can afford to do a complete renovation of the court building and some renovations at the police station,” City Manager April Lynch said. “We have a lot of features within both buildings that are not comfortable safety-wise, and those need to be addressed.”
Lynch said the total project is projected to cost between $1.5 million and $1.8 million, but it will not exceed $1.9 million. The project is expected to be completed by May or June of next year.
The police station will have about 1,000 square feet added on, while the courthouse will have about a 4,000-square-foot addition. Longo said the extra space would allow the clerk to have a brand new office, as well as provide extra space for interview rooms where attorneys can meet with clients.
As for the move to City Hall and having operations occurring in two different buildings, Longo said it would be a challenge for the next year.
“We are not looking forward to the next year, and it will be tougher on the staff than on me, which is usually the case,” Longo said. “I’ll be hearing court cases in the council chambers and we have had to do things to make that work, like have a temporary bench built on wheels so we can wheel it in for court and wheel it out for council meetings.
“It will be interesting, but we have to be open to adjustments as time goes on.”
Lynch said court personnel are expected to be moved into City Hall and the Credit Union ONE building by the end of June. The city is still finalizing bids on the construction, which is expected to be resolved by the end of July, with the renovations beginning the first part of August.
When renovations were done at City Hall in 2010, everyone was crammed into the downstairs while the upstairs was worked on, Lynch said. It won’t be a comfortable year, she added, but it is something everyone can work with.
“We have internal issues in both buildings that need to be addressed, but the court building, aesthetically outside, needs work, too,” Lynch said. “We have put so much redevelopment into our downtown area and made sure that things look nice; it will be nice to add to that, as well, with the courthouse.”
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