Plans have been drawn, but the county will wait until funding is in place before construction of the Faulkner County Criminal Justice Center begins, County Civil Attorney Stephan Hawks said.
The Quorum Court addressed the building of the new facility at their monthly meeting Tuesday night.
According to Hawks, the goal of the new complex is to have everything involved in the criminal justice system in one place. Since the courthouse offered little room for expansion, several county offices are operating out of purchased or rented buildings near the court square.
Hawks said the new 65,000-square-foot facility will house the offices of the circuit judges, the prosecuting attorney and satellite offices for the county and circuit clerks, as well as the entire juvenile system, which is currently broken into two different offices.
Security at the current courthouse is also a concern, but the new complex should rectify those issues.
Although plans have been made, the new justice complex is far from groundbreaking ceremonies. Hawks said the county will wait until funding is in place before construction begins.
“In the best case scenario, it would be the beginning of 2014 before any groundbreaking,” Hawks said.
The new criminal justice center has an approximate cost of $11 million. According to Hawks, the county will have $3 million of that by the end of this year.
The county will borrow $5 million and will collect the remaining $3 million from taxes.
“Because we’re relying on taxes, it’s better to have the money on hand before we start,” Hawks said. “We don’t want to get 75 percent of the building done and run out of money.”
Hawks said the county also has plans for the current courthouse.
“Our plan is to have two separate campuses,” Hawks said. “One is the criminal justice campus where the new complex would be. We’d also like have an administrative building where the current courthouse is, but that is years down the road.”
Some residents, including Quorum Court member Jerry Park, have voiced their concerns over the new complex and the use of the current courthouse.
At Tuesday’s Quorum Court meeting, Park spoke out against the new facility.
“This is a building we can’t afford and don’t need,” Park said. “We’re neglecting the courthouse we have ... a historical building. I’ve spoken with all of the judges and they are happy with their quarters.”
The new criminal justice center is set to be constructed on South German Lane. Sowell & Russell Architects, Inc., of Conway designed the proposed site plans.
(Staff writer Stephanie Fischer can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1238. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit.)