Sunday, January 07, 2001

Hamilton, Middletown vie for court




By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — The new home of the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals has been narrowed to two options: the old Municipal Building in Hamilton, or a new facility in Middletown.

        “Right now, in terms of dollars, they are about the same but they are two very different proposals,” said Bennett Manning, court administrator for the court of appeals.

        “I don't know that we prefer one over the other. The court has decided that they want to do this mainly on an economic basis. They feel that we've got eight counties to be concerned about, and we want to be sure that whatever we do is financially acceptable to all of the eight counties,” he said.

        The counties are: Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fayette, Madison, Preble and Warren.

        The lease for the court of appeals, on the second and third floors of the Middletown City Building, expires in October. Though Mr. Manning would not say how soon a decision would be made about the future home of the court, he said it was doubtful the court would move before October. The court of appeals needs about 15,000 square feet.

        Councilwoman Sharon Hughes said she favors the court moving into the 54,000-square-foot, art deco Municipal Building because it could take advantage of its architectural character. An art-related museum is also a possibility.

        Mrs. Hughes said it's critical to find a use for the build ing as soon as possible.

        “I don't think it's good for any building in your downtown to remain empty for too long,” she said. “We obviously have several others that are already empty, and we need to work at getting everything occupied.”

        Most of the offices in the Municipal Building were moved into the new, $18 million One Renaissance Center last summer. The meter readers and the city's 911 dispatch center remain in the Municipal Building, built in 1933.

       



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