Fargo Municipal Court pulling into old depot
Sue Thompson has her eyes on the time when the scales of justice will get more room to balance at Fargo's Municipal Court. The clerk of court said the lobby of the current courthouse at 414 4th Ave. N. is swamped in the mornings, and "the courtro...
Sue Thompson has her eyes on the time when the scales of justice will get more room to balance at Fargo's Municipal Court.
The clerk of court said the lobby of the current courthouse at 414 4th Ave. N. is swamped in the mornings, and "the courtroom is overflowing at times."
The court is relocating to the former Greyhound Bus depot at 402 NP Ave. this fall.
The $1.5 million project started in April and should be done by November, said Greg Oakland, project architect from Mutchler Bartram Architects.
"I think this one is really going to be a vast improvement" over the current site, Municipal Judge Tom Davies said.
Security, workflow, acoustics, seating and accommodations will be better, more like the district courts, Davies said.
Outside, the building will be little changed, but inside, the court will have more than 8,000 square feet of space, compared with less than 6,000 square feet now, Oakland said. There will be a second courtroom for hearings, and the offices of the city prosecutor and public defenders will be in the same building, he said.
"I like the idea of having the public defenders and city attorneys over there. It's easier for the public," Davies said.
The extra space will make it possible to accommodate jury trials, if the Supreme Court mandates their return in municipal cases, Davies said.
"This building is designed to go into the future," Davies said.
A large enclosed garage on the southwest corner of the structure will house 18-20 police cruisers, saving the department time shuttling officers to and from the city garage for their shifts, City Administrator Pat Zavoral said.
Zavoral said a $200,000 federal stimulus grant for energy-saving projects was obtained to upgrade the building's mechanical systems.
The city has rented its current court space since 2001. Zavoral said the cost of the renovation will be recouped over time through rent saved.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583