MEDINA — County and city officials don’t always agree, but they do on the idea of a shared courthouse.
City Council hosted a joint meeting Monday night with county commissioners at city hall and discussed a combined Medina County common pleas and Medina municipal court project.
The county and city have talked about building separate courthouses, but apparently agree that joining forces makes the most sense financially.
“We should figure out how we can work together and save money,” council President John Coyne said.
The idea for a joint court project originated in 2008, and county Commissioner Pat Geissman said the reason a joint project ended in 2008 was because “the economy bombed.”
The county has hired an architect to look into several projects, the largest of which would be expanding the county courthouse and including the municipal court in the project.
With a joint project, they could share a security entrance and possibly meetings rooms and restroom facilities, as well as utility costs.
“We should try to find common ground,” Coyne said. “We all represent the public. It’s all the same money.”
Commissioner Bill Hutson said it also makes sense for the convenience of residents paying court costs and taking care of other services.
The county courthouse on Public Square only has so much room, Hutson said.
“There are a lot of geographic constraints,” he said.
He said the project could consider adding another floor to the courthouse.
If the municipal court becomes part of the expansion project, the building at 135 N. Elmwood Ave. could be available for another use, perhaps by the county.
“We can work something out with (using the municipal court),” Coyne said.
To help with current space issues, the county is “close” to purchasing Courthouse Commons at 60 Public Square, Hutson said. The plan is to move the prosecutor’s office to that facility. The probation office will move into the area vacated by the prosecutor’s office.
Before moving forward on any project, the common pleas and municipal judges would need to be consulted.
At-Large Councilman Bill Lamb said the joint courthouse project should be one where they should not have any “philosophical differences.”
“If we can work out the space issue, that should be a doable thing.”
Lamb said the common pleas court is so cramped now, “it’s like putting more people in the closet. If it works out, great. If it doesn’t, I hope that it’s because of space (and not political differences).”
City officials still are feeling the sting of the parking deck that was built behind the county courthouse court in 2004.
Ward 2 Councilman Dennie Simpson said the county held the city’s feet to the fire unless it supported the project by hinting it might move the courthouse off the square.
“I had bad feelings a few years ago,” Simpson said. “I don’t have them now.”
Coyne said the open dialogue is important.
“We don’t have to agree with each other, but at least we should respect each others’ opinions,” he said.
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.