By John Raffel
ALLEGAN – The Allegan County Board of Commissioners, in a 5-0 vote, decided on Thursday to approve initial plans recommended by county administration for the conversion of the Allegan County building for sole use as a courthouse.
“The project is needed to accommodate the additional circuit court judge the state approved for the county when the new jurist is elected late next year,” board of commissioners chairman James Story said. “The so-called ‘bubble’ diagrams will now be finalized into specific square footage for the respective offices to be housed in the courthouse.
“In the months leading to last Thursday’s vote, administration officials and the architect retained to design the final footprint met, sometimes on several occasions, with the various offices currently housed in the county building. Non-court, county administrative functions now housed in the county building will be moved to renovated space in the county’s services building at the Dumont Lake campus.”
Storey said the space in the services building will soon be vacated by OnPoint, the mental health agency, when it moves to its new quarters in the re-purposed big box store on M-40 near Allegan Ascension Hospital.
“Re-using existing space rather than constructing new buildings saves several hundred dollars per square foot in construction costs,” Storey said. “Dumont Lake campus buildings now host the Medical Care facility, MSU extension service, Michigan Works employment services, the county health department, central dispatch and emergency operations offices, the juvenile home including a branch probate courtroom, the county’s animal shelter, and the state’s health and human services agency.
“In order to meet the deadline for courtroom occupancy by the new judge, architect and administration officials say construction must start this fall.