A 2015 Barry County Master Facilities Plan recommended moving the Michigan State University Extension office out of the Courts & Law building and moving Friend of the Court (FOC) offices into the newly vacated space, along with other recommendations.
The MSEU office has been moved and now the County Commission is ready to begin the FOC move, recommending Commissioners Jon Smelker and Vivian Conner as an advisory committee of two to work with county staff and Landmark Design Group to prepare a plan and budget for the project.
The ad hoc committee, a system the county used in earlier construction projects that worked well, will help keep the project moving, provide a timeline and feedback to the commission on a regular basis, and keep the project on budget after the budget is determined, Administrator Michael Brown said.
Brown said the project had been talked about for several years but the court administrators at the time of the study were concerned there might not be enough room to move the FOC from 102 South Broadway into the vacated MSUE space. Reimbursement from the state also played a part in the delay.
The current court administrators believe there is enough space, “with not any extra,” Brown said. The goal is to keep the programs that function in the court system in that building, as well as those programs that have heightened security needs.
“More importantly…it’s just too important not to. To have all the staff in one location is a goal and propriety with them.”
The new Indigent Defense Department is in the Courts & Law building.
The committee will begin the process and bring back a recommendation to the board with a plan to actually move the FOC over, with a time frame, ultimately to get the project bid out, with at least some of it done internally, he said.
Other recommendations in the study, the renovations to the former Hastings Library building and moving the MSUE office there, and improvements to the Circuit Courtroom in the Barry County Courthouse, have been completed.
A new Barry County Jail and Commission on Aging building, also recommended by the study, are in the active planning stages.
In other business Tuesday, the commission recommended approval of the first budget amendment of 2019, that did not include any amendments that affected the bottom line of the General Fund, and approval of PA116 requests from Spring Creek Farms for parcels 18-16, 18-17 and 18-18 in Sections 2, 14 and 21 of Johnstown Township.
The commission is expected to act on the recommendations at its next meeting.