Commissioners to consider renovation bid for new court

Gary B. Gray • Feb 6, 2013 at 9:52 PM

The City Commission tonight will consider a roughly $1.1 million bid by Kingsport’s Armstrong Construction to renovate the former Seniors’ Center for use as Johnson City’s Juvenile Court.

Judge Sharon M. Green has anticipated for some time the relief the additional space will provide, not only for operations but also for emotions that sometimes can run high in cramped quarters.

“Our court today has a width of only 13 feet,” Green said in December. “There are high tension levels on occasion and the parties are sitting just feet apart. This is going to be a tremendous improvement. The new courtroom will be about 25 to 35 feet wide.”

Bids for the 10,000-square-foot renovation are for the city’s new Juvenile Court at 607 E. Myrtle Ave. The court’s current location is 102 W. Myrtle Ave.

The city’s Juvenile Court is about 6,000 square feet in size, but that will nearly double after renovations.

In March, the total cost estimate for renovations was about $1.4 million, according to results of a feasibility study presented to the City Commission by Thomas Weems Architects. But commissioners later asked Weems to bring down the cost, and bids are expected to reflect that.

Bid documents show the big-ticket items include replacement of the roof and new heating and cooling systems. The new courtroom will be carved out of the old gymnasium, increasing elbow room dramatically.

The new court also will include a conference room used for “child and family team meetings.” The drive-thru portion of the old center will be demolished to make way for a large lobby, or waiting area, that will double the number of chairs from 30 to 60, Green said. Parking also will be much improved.

Just exactly what will happen to the existing Juvenile Court building and parking lot remains unknown, though there has been talk about converting it for an alternate municipal use.

Commissioners also will consider an agreement with Watauga Presbyterian Church to jointly utilize parking areas owned by the city and the church. The parking is between what will be the new court and the church.

Commissioners also will consider a more than $35,000 bid from Morristown Roofing Co. for the re-roofing of Fire Station No. 7 at 2230 W. Walnut St.

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