SAN FRANCISCO—The State Public Works Board (SPWB) has approved the no-cost acquisition of the last parcel needed to proceed with the renovation and expansion of the historic courthouse in Willows for the Superior Court of Glenn County. The County of Glenn is donating land adjacent to the current courthouse to allow for a new addition to be built behind it. The county is also providing long-term leases of two nearby lots for off-site parking.
“With this last hurdle clear, the Superior Court of Glenn County is continuing with its project to provide access to court users and to upgrade services and technology with the renovation of the Historic Courthouse, the addition of two new jury courtrooms, and the consolidation of court services to one location,” said Presiding Judge Donald Cole Byrd. “This project will increase efficiencies and decrease expenditures for all county partners and the public. We are looking forward to our further meetings with the architects and community partners to make the Historic Courthouse the centerpiece of not only the justice system but of the Glenn County community.”
The Glenn County Board of Supervisors approved these agreements at its October 18, 2011, meeting. State approval enables the Administrative Office of the Courts, which is managing the project, to proceed with architectural design, for which the firm of Page and Turnbull has been retained. The firm specializes in the reuse of existing buildings and preserving historic structures. Construction is currently scheduled to begin in 2013 and be completed by late 2015.
The project will improve the security, functionality, and efficiency of the historic courthouse by linking it with a new two-story addition of nearly 27,000 square feet. The historic 1894 courthouse will be strengthened against earthquakes and have improved mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. The project will enhance the main entrance and lobby and provide security screening, a self-help center, and mediation and settlement spaces. The historic courtroom will be restored, while the addition will house two courtrooms, the clerk’s office, and court operations as well as the sheriff and holding areas for in-custody defendants. The project is being planned consistent with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
The new courthouse project was ranked as an “immediate need” in the judicial branch’s capital-outlay plan, making it among the branch’s highest-priority infrastructure projects. It is funded by Senate Bill 1407, enacted in 2008 to provide up to $5 billion in funding for new and renovated courthouses using court fees, penalties, and assessments rather than the state’s General Fund. The state Budget Act for fiscal year 2011–2012 contains significant cuts to the account that funds SB 1407 projects. These cuts may cause delays in SB 1407 projects and project budget reductions but are not expected to delay this project’s progress in the current fiscal year.
More information on the project can be found on the California Courts website at www.courts.ca.gov/facilities-glenn.htm.