Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Monday, April 8, 2013
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New, improved courthouse opens soon
2 years in making, Marathon gets 2 additional courtrooms

Courthouse workers could be able to move into the newly renovated Marathon courthouse within the month as the $1 million renovation is nearly complete.

All the furnishings are in place and a final walk-through was completed on Thursday, said 16th Judicial Circuit Trial Court Administrator Holly Elomina and Monroe County Project Management Director Jerry Barnett.

Just about everything on the inside of the 1970s building at Mile Marker 50 has been replaced, including the air conditioning system and every part of the courthouse has been made compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Barnett said.

The courthouse has all new floors, ceiling, fixtures, benches, bathrooms, judges' chambers and jury boxes.

"Basically, a whole new interior," Barnett said.

The renovations started Aug. 1, 2011, but the discovery of asbestos and mold on Dec. 27 that year led to a six-month delay for removal of the toxins, Barnett said. With that part of the project completed, crews hoped to have the remainder of the work done by February.

"We're doing the final walk-through inspection and applying for our certificate of occupancy," Barnett said. "We want to get everyone inside quickly."

Lawyers, court reporters, county Judge Ruth Becker and other legal workers have been getting by with a trailer, which has now been replaced with a larger trailer that has bathrooms for jurors.

The new trailer and renovated main building means Marathon has two new courtrooms.

The county hired Pedro Falcon Electrical and General Contractors of Big Pine Key to complete the renovation, Barnett said. The same builders constructed the Big Pine Key firehouse and are building the Conch Key firehouse.

"We have given Marathon an appropriate space and now have two fully functional courtrooms," Elomina said. "The old trailer did not have a jury bathroom and was just not a functional space. It's now a much more appropriate place to hold court."

Other improvements are updated security camera systems and a larger security area.

There was talk over whether to bulldoze the courthouse and start anew, but funds were limited.

"So the budget was pretty tight, but we're putting the finish touches on it now and we're ready to go," Barnett said.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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