State awards contract for courthouse

Almost $7 million OK'd for new facility for district bench

Years in the planning

Construction set to begin in March, with 2002 finish

January 25, 2001|By Greg Garland | Greg Garland,SUN STAFF

The state Board of Public Works approved yesterday a contract for nearly $7 million to build a new Carroll County District Courthouse in Westminster's historic district.

The long-planned building will be in a classical brick design with four white columns, arched dormer windows and a cupola, according to plans filed with the city. Construction is expected to begin in March and be completed in September 2002.

Julia Walsh Gouge, president of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners, said county officials "certainly are pleased" with the state's decision to fund construction of the courthouse.

"This is something that has been in the works for many years," Gouge said. "We need the extra space. Right now, things are overcrowded."

The courthouse will be built on a 1.58-acre parcel on the southeast corner of Court Street and Greenwood Avenue. Parking for employees will be at the rear of the building, along Ralph Street.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who sits on the three-member Board of Public Works, said the courthouse project is an excellent example of Maryland's Smart Growth initiative to prevent sprawl. Under the program, state resources are used to locate government facilities within communities that have the existing infrastructure to support them.

"This new courthouse will create new jobs in the surrounding area and revitalize downtown Westminster," Glendening said.

Gouge said the new courthouse will be part of a larger government complex that the county has been developing in recent years in Westminster's historic district, making it easier for residents to gain access to government offices and services.

The new court building will be two stories, have 41,926 square feet of space and consist of two courtrooms and related offices.

The facility will have judges' chambers, clerks' offices, and state's attorney and public defender offices. The facility also will house juvenile justice and parole and probation offices.

The board awarded the $6,974,585 contract to Roy Kirby & Sons Inc. of Baltimore, the lowest of 11 bidders. Slightly more than 15 percent of total construction costs will be given to minority subcontractors.

The county bought the land where the courthouse will be built several years ago. Last summer, county officials tore down two structures that were on the site - a house and day care center - as they prepared for construction of the courthouse.

District Court space is leased by the state in the county's Courthouse Annex building, next to the site on Court Street. That space is to become a third circuit courtroom.

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