Story by: Arpan Lobo
WEST OLIVE — Ottawa County commissioners voted Tuesday to officially approve the planning of a new Family Justice Center that will be located in its Fillmore Street Complex in West Olive.
Following a 7-2 vote, the county will assign an integrated project delivery (IPD) team to plan the design and construction of the project. The project cost could be anywhere from an estimated $15-$22 million, depending on the final size of the building.
The IPD is for the first phase of a potential three-phase project, taking place over the course of many years. The first phase would be the construction of a new facility that would house the county Friend of the Court, the county juvenile court, and support staff for children involved in family court cases. Additionally, increased office space, conference rooms and holding cells would be included.
During a a previous study session, county staff detailed its reasoning for the new facility. Sandra Metcalf, county juvenile court director, told commissioners that current facilities in Grand Haven and at the Fillmore Street Complex in West Olive lack adequate space for typical court functions. A lack of appropriate meeting spaces for staff as well as attorneys and clients is an issue in both complexes. At the Fillmore complex, security issues persist.
Incarcerated individuals at the complex walk through public waiting areas when being transferred. Limited lobby space prevents separating conflicting parties, which can be traumatic for individuals involved in family cases, Metcalf said. A lack of accessible restrooms remains a problem as well.
Expansion on the current facility at Fillmore would be difficult, according to Deputy County Administrator John Shay. HVAC equipment on the roof of the building is expensive to move, which would be required if the building were to be expanded in height. Adding additional space by expanding the building outward would involve flattening parts of the surrounding wooded area or eliminating parking spaces, which Shay said are already limited.
The planned Family Justice Center was originally called the Juvenile Justice Center, but Ottawa County Chief Circuit Judge Jon Van Allsburg told the board that the new name more accurately reflects the building’s intended function.
Two commissioners voted against the motion. Commissioner Doug Zylstra, who represents much of the city of Holland and Commissioners Allen Dannenberg, who represents parts of Holland township, the city of Zeeland and parts of Zeeland township, voted no.
Both dissenting commissioners cited a lack of alternative options to the proposed project as a reason for voting no. Dannenberg added that he wondered if enough research had gone into updating existing security issues, like the lack of space. He said that any safety concerns at Ottawa County facilities need to be addressed immediately.
Zylstra told commissioners that he would have liked to have seen possible lower cost options as well.
County Administrator Al Vanderberg said that bidding for the project would likely take place later this fall, adding that it is a two year project.
The meeting also featured the approval of the purchase of a new mobile dental unit for its Miles of Smiles program. The current mobile dental unit has been in use since 2004, and provides dental servies 1,300 to 1,400 underserved Ottawa County residents, performed by volunteering dentists and dental hygiene students from Grand Rapids Community College.
The cost for the vehicle and dental equipment is an estimated $575,000. The county has received a $200,000 grant from Delta Dental Services, a $10,000 grant from the Holland/Zeeland Community Foundation, and expects to receive between $50,000 and $80,000 for the sale of the old vehicle. The added grants and potential sale revenue could place the final cost at closer to $285,000.
Posted on September 26, 2019 at 6:40 pm