Morris freeholders to hear pitch for expanding historic Morristown courthouse, Jan. 9

The historic Morris County Courthouse, May 23, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The historic Morris County Courthouse, May 23, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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From the Morris County Freeholders:

FREEHOLDERS TO HOLD SPECIAL PUBLIC SESSION ON PROPOSED MORRIS COUNTY COURTHOUSE EXPANSION AND RENOVATION
Wednesday Evening, Jan. 9, 2019, in Morristown

The Morris County Board of Freeholders will hold a special public session on the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, to outline the specific needs and requirements for state judicial facilities in Morris County, and the reasons for the consideration of Morris County Courthouse expansion and renovations.

The special forum will take place during the Freeholder Board meeting at 7 p.m. in the County Administration and Records Building in Morristown.

Officials from the Morris County courts, law enforcement, engineering and public safety are scheduled to make brief presentations on the courthouse issue during this special session.

Providing adequate court facilities and securing those facilities are the sole responsibility of each respective county in New Jersey. Previously, the Morris County Freeholder Board commissioned a Space Needs and Facilities Assessment pertaining to the judiciary and county government.

That Space Needs Assessment identified a significant shortfall in criminal, family and civil court facilities.

A redacted version of that Needs Assessment (with sensitive security information blacked out) is posted on the main page of the Morris County website for public review. You can read or download the summary and the full report here.  

At a Dec. 12, 2018, meeting, the Freeholder Board, by a unanimous vote following a public hearing process, adopted two capital ordinances totaling $5 million that could finance a design of the proposed new and expanded court facilities.

The need for courthouse expansion will be discussed at the Jan. 9 public session, at which the public will be able to comment. Also, a one-month formal public comment period will commence following the meeting.

Some Background:

In Morris County, the county government, the state courts, and related nonprofit organizations currently operate from the Morris County Courthouse, the Morris County Administration and Records Building, and the Schuyler Annex Building in downtown Morristown, with additional state‐level court services housed in leased space.

Over time, as the needs of the county and the state have grown, so has the need for more secure and accessible facilities from which to operate. Morris County has attempted to meet these needs on a project-by-project basis, utilizing available facilities and space in the most efficient manner possible.

In late 2016, it became apparent that an analysis of existing available space was needed, coupled with a comprehensive and long‐term examination and evaluation of current and future space needs.

In early 2017, Morris County retained a team of consultants led by consulting firm Dewberry to undertake this needs assessment and master planning effort.

The study was scoped with addressing the capital facility needs of Morris County for both county government and state court functions, looking at least 20 years into the future, and developing a capital facility master plan level strategy to meet those needs.

Following months of data gathering, interviews with key officials and stakeholders, in‐depth analyses, and development and evaluation of optional solutions, several key findings emerged that defined the recommended solution.

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