Ground broken for new court building

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 8, 2013

 St. Clair Shores officials break ground on  a new 40th District Court building March 1.

St. Clair Shores officials break ground on a new 40th District Court building March 1.

Photo by Deb Jacques

On a freezing March day, St. Clair Shores officials broke the first ground on a new, state-of-the-art building for the 40th District Court.

“I’m excited for the citizens of St. Clair Shores,” said Judge Joseph Oster. “They will be safer, and cases will be adjudicated more efficiently.”

Chief Judge Mark Fratarcangeli said the new building would offer top-notch security, safety and usability — something they didn’t have in the old building, which the court moved into in 1978. Prior to the 11 Mile and Jefferson Avenue building’s use as a court, it was the city’s water department building. Parts of the now torn-down structure dated back to 1937.

He credits former Mayor Robert Hison and former Councilman David Rubello for finally getting the ball rolling for a new building, as well as the current mayor and council for continuing their work and “seeing it through.”

“We’re very thankful for the leadership of Council,” agreed Oster, who has memories of the court dating back decades. His father, Judge Craig J. Oster, presided over cases in the city from 1970-1996.

Mayor Kip Walby said he was happy the day had finally come to break ground on the new building — which he did with a brand new shovel the morning of March 1 — and excited because this is the first municipal construction to come to St. Clair Shores in a long time.

“We’ve got pride in what we have,” he said. “It was long overdue.”

Bonds for the project in the amount of $1.855 million were sold the afternoon of Feb. 26 at an interest rate of 2.99 percent. Estimates by bond counsel had put the rate around 3 percent.

“It came in where we had estimated,” Walby said.

He emphasized that the new building would come at no cost to taxpayers.

“The court’s paying for it,” he said, adding that with the interest rate and 25-year time period, the court is projected to have a surplus in the court building fund each year, as well.

The city hoped to have the money before mid-March and Walby said the process of laying the footings for the new building would begin then, as well. He said he hopes to see the building finished in 9-10 months. Until then, the 40th District Court is located in an old school building at the St. Gertrude Campus of Our Lady of Hope Church, 28839 Jefferson Ave.