A Medina group thinks voters should have a say in the multi-million dollar project to build a new courthouse.
The current county courthouse was built in 1841 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. One proposal would demolish a 1969 addition to the courthouse to make way for a new city and county building.
Medina County Commissioners will meet Tuesday morning to vote on hiring a construction manager at risk for the project. But attorney Pat Walker of the group “Save Your Courthouse” says voters should have more input into the process, which she calls “rushed.”
“They haven’t figured out what they actually want to build [or] where they want to build it [and] it’s not definite that the municipal court is going to be in the courthouse.”
County Commissioner William Hutson says there’s nothing for voters to decide, as the county is required to provide adequate courthouse facilities. But they will be gathering public input to determine how the project moves forward. He says the existing building needs more modern security, and a proposal to upgrade the facility a decade ago was deemed too costly.
“Separation of parties and witnesses and judges magistrates and jurors and so forth has changed. In particular after 9/11, the security requirements changed dramatically. And our court just isn’t up to contemporary standards.”
Walker says the current building simply needs additional security personnel. Her group has also filed suit saying that the city improperly agreed to partially fund the project in partnership with Medina County.
“We believe that when you’re going to spend [a proposed $38 million], you’re going to change the look of the Medina Square, and you’re going to build a courthouse, the people should be able to vote on it first.”
Medina County’s Courthouse Steering Committee meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month at the city’s administration building. The meetings are open to the public.