Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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January 31, 2014

Temporary courthouse space could be tight

Corsicana — The Navarro County Courthouse renovation project isn’t just one project, it’s a series of steps that will lead to one grand reorganization of where and how the county government is housed, but already there’s a kink in the proceedings.

“We lost the space for the juvenile probation,” said County Judge H.M. Davenport. “We’re gathering information on what people need for their offices, with the understanding that we’re going to be in more cramped space than what we’re in now.”

The county is negotiating with the Navarro Center, formerly the Navarro Mall, to rent space for the government offices temporarily while the construction is being done to renovate the historic courthouse and build a new annex. However, the mall property managers couldn’t hold the empty spaces forever, and rented one of the spaces that was going to be used for the county.

That means already making some accommodations to make up for the lost 3,000 square feet of office space, said Cody Muldner, project manager.

“We lost a big chunk of it, so we have to reshuffle the dominoes and see what we can make happen,” he said.

“We have 35,000 square feet of working space (now), and we’re trying to move into 27,000 square feet. We’re working with the most important needs and then seeing how we can spread out,” Muldner said.

This past Monday, the commissioner’s court authorized the historic architects on the project, 1113 Architects, to come up with plans for the mall renovations. The spaces at the mall that once held retail stores, then federal and non-profit agencies, will be reconfigured to allow for lots of records, much more foot traffic, and much more daily capacity. Which also means more bathrooms and meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Eventually, once a new courthouse annex is built or bought, the probation departments and the tax office will be there permanently. Having those offices in a separate facility will make it easier for people to get in and out to pay their taxes and renew car tags, and improve security at the courthouse, since the probation departments won’t be there anymore.

The county is tentatively looking at building a new two-story annex in the parking lot across 13th Street from the Justice Center, diagonal from the courthouse.

“That’s the plan for right now,” Davenport said. “When we passed the bond, the plan when going forward was to either build or acquire. We were going to see what the best deal was going to be. But some of what we looked to acquire is not going to be available, so it appears it will be a new build. But that could change.”

Even now, the commissioners and project coordinators are trying to work out those plans, even though it’s a good way down the road.

“We’ve got to have some options now,” Muldner said. “When we finally kick this off, we’ve got to have a home for everybody.”

—————

Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “soundoff” to this article? Email: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

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