Courthouse annex makeover to close alley

September 28, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN - A portion of an alley that runs behind the Washington County Courthouse to Summit Avenue will be closed through December 2005 when renovations to the courthouse's annex are due to be completed.

A fenced-in trailer, Dumpster and tubs for asbestos removal will remain in the section of the alley beside the annex - a three-story courthouse addition facing Summit Avenue that was built in 1962 - until the approximately $4.2 million project is finished, said Gary Pozzouli, project manager for the renovations.

As part of the renovations, a bomb shelter will be converted into a file room, an old taxation office will be remodeled for use as a law library and a clerk's office will take shape as the building's fifth courtroom, he said.


Pozzouli said that the annex is being renovated due to increased court caseloads, for which the current combined courthouse and annex, containing four courtrooms, are inadequate.

As a part of the annex project, asbestos will be removed from the first and second floors, he said. Asbestos was removed from the second and third floors of the building in 1991, he said.

Removal of asbestos should take between four and six weeks for each of the two floors, he said. The heating and air conditioning systems will be updated, wiring replaced and some departments will be shifted to different floors to make way for remodeling, he said.

The civil department will move from its second floor office next to a new law library on the first floor, said Clerk of the Circuit Court Dennis J. Weaver.

He said that the civil department will have a counter that will give customers walk-up access.

"I think it'll improve our customer service," Weaver said.

He said that the state budgeted some money for the Clerk's Office to have a dumb waiter installed to bring files to clerks in the civil department from a new file room, which will replace a bomb shelter in the basement.

In the basement, where asbestos currently is being removed as the first part of the project, seven to eight new holding cells will be built and part of the Washington County Sheriff's Department judicial division will be based, Pozzouli said.

He said that a boiler system, which will handle both buildings, a new flagpole, new handicapped ramp and new steps leading to the annex will be added.

The annex will get a new metal detector at its entrance and new carpeting and flooring, for which color schemes are being developed, Pozzouli said.

"We plan on keeping this building business as usual as much as possible," he said. "Although with a project of this magnitude, you're bound to have areas of disruption from time to time."

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