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Saturday October 20, 2018

courthouse future uncertain

Wednesday, October 04, 2017 15:40 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

The courthouse in Michigan City built in 1909 could be on borrowed time.

The LaPorte County Commissioners Wednesday ordered cost estimates for renovating the structure and building a new one.

Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora said the purpose is to find out the most cost efficient way to go.

Dan Weinheimer, an architect with Indianapolis-based American Structure Point, said he was not prepared to offer ballpark figures but the courthouse if renovated properly would last another 100-years.

A new courthouse might last up to 50-years but could be constructed to be here for a century at a higher cost.

''Modern buildings to build one that's going to last 100-years are very expensive. Even to build one that's going to last 50-years are very expensive,'' Weinheimer said.

Commission president Rich Mrozinski said he hopes to be presented with cost estimates by the end of the month so a decision citing a sense of urgency can be made as quickly as possible.

LaPorte County auditor Joie Winski said there's a risk of being ordered by local and state fire inspectors to vacate the courthouse if the old electrical system viewed as a potential safety hazard isn't brought up to code soon.

''It has to be addressed. We have to do something about it,'' Mrozinski said.

Plans also include an addition for doubling the space of the courthouse so it's completely handicapped accessible and to eliminate cramped working conditions, improve security while escorting offenders to hearings, and housing all county government offices in Michigan City under one roof.

Winski said all of the judges want the courthouse renovated, but Mrozinski noted the decision will boil down to dollars and cents.

''They're not the ones paying for it. It's taxpayers. We need to do what's best for cost effectiveness,'' said Mrozinski.

Also on the drawing board is an addition connecting the 1892 courthouse in LaPorte to the County Complex about 200 feet away and fill that space with offices now across the street.

Mrozinski said the LaPorte project is on the back burner, though, until the more dire situation in Michigan City gets addressed
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