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Courthouse expansion furthers development

On Wednesday, Monroe County Commissioners held their third public virtual meeting to discuss next steps for the proposed courthouse expansion.

The expansion has been in consideration since 2008, with then President Judge Ronald E. Vican quoted as perceiving a need for expansion of the courthouse due its limited capacity to effectively serve caseloads and personnel.

In 2016, the commissioners contracted with The National Center for State Courts to acquire insight as to the logistics for space needed to add an efficient expansion of the courthouse.

“It’s not uncommon for defendants, jurors, members of the public, and judges to be walking down the same corridor at the same time. Our sheriff’s deputies must escort the judges from their chambers to the court to their courtrooms” said Commissioners’ Vice Chairman John R. Moyer.

Margherita Patti Worthington, current president judge, was present for the meeting and commented on the high caseloads the county experiences.

“We are the busiest fourth class county court in the commonwealth. Year after year, our numbers are, in every area of the court, above the average and well above the average of all of the other fourth class counties,” Worthington said. “The need is there.”

After submitting requests for proposal to three different architectural firms with expertise in courthouse construction and design, the commissioners have decided to move forward with CGL Companies.

The expansion is intended to provide more working space for personnel, efficiency, security, signs and modern updates both cosmetically and functionally.

Enrique Maciá, senior vice president of CGL Companies, was available for discussion at the meeting.

“Our goal is to improve the courthouse and keep it functional so that for the foreseeable future, the courthouse can really remain part of downtown Stroudsburg, contributing to the civic and economic vitality of the borough.

“But also, very importantly, you have a beautiful historic courthouse based in the 1890s, being a major part of the heart of downtown for 130 years. We are preserving the historic courthouse and updating all the life, safety and security systems so that it will be a safe, modern building,” Maciá said.

Currently, CGL is in the design phase which consists of completing design development drawings, Historical Architectural Review Board presentation, and zoning commission presentations; which is expected to be completed from July-December 2020.

The construction phase is projected as follows:

• January-March 2021: Construction Bidding and Procurement

• April 2021-July 2023: Construction Phase 1 and 2

• July 2023: Opening

When asked about funding for the project, Moyer said, “No, funds are not set aside, but we’ve planned for this expenditure. And we’ve been planning for it for the past eight years. Our long-term debt presently goes out to about 2026.

“We believe that the money for this project can be borrowed without affecting the overall tax rate that we are presently experiencing.

“In other words, we don’t see an increase in taxes as a result of borrowing for this edifice.”

Monroe County Commissioners spoke about courthouse expansion plans on Wednesday. RAFAEL FONTONES/TIMES NEWS