HOPE – While under a 90-day non-binding letter of intent, Hempstead County Judge Haskell Morse is actively moving towards the purchase of the Farmer’s Bank building.
Sitting behind a pile of county financial documents, Judge Morse was steadfast in his belief that the county has the funds for the purchase and that this is the only viable option towards a courthouse that is safe and secure for both employees and residents.
The funds Morse refers to are a $1.7 million from the construction of Hempstead Hall, as well as projected surpluses from the half-mil increase of 2014. He is quick to point out that there has been some confusion in the Hempstead Hall funds and the funds from the sale of the hospital, when they are two separate funds. “We won’t be touching the hospital fund,” Morse said.
Architect Wayne Trull and Morse will be meeting Thursday to make further adjustments to the plans for the remodeling; the plans, dated January 24th, are not final plans, but those shown at the well attended January 26th Quorum Court meeting. These adjustments include additional bathrooms, the closing of the skylight and the addition of a wench-controlled chandelier in the center of the building.
The first floor of the bank building would house most of the county offices that residents use. Actual office space for these would be enlarged and streamlined for both employees and residents. Vault space – for the necessary storage of the vast number of documents generated on a daily basis – would also be enlarged. Bathrooms for both employees and the public would be more accessible and in actual working order, which they aren’t at the existing courthouse. The plans show a definite “user friendly” layout.
The second floor contains the bulk of the county legal offices: the prosecuting attorney, juvenile intake and judge’s offices would be found there, also increasing their space, security and function, by being located not only in the same building, but on the same floor.
The third floor will contain the courts system. Morse incisions a separate and secure entryway on the east side of the building that would serve those attending court proceedings. This would dramatically cut down on traffic through the courthouse main entry.
The option of relocating the courthouse to the Farmer’s building has been met with widespread support from the public, but Morse cautions that it is a process: “It’s like the government or the military – hurry up and wait!”