Miami Courthouse Plaza project continues despite funding denial

TROY - Miami County commissioners want to continue exploring options for a Courthouse Plaza project even though the county’s request for funding in the state capital budget was denied.

Commissioners met April 3 with consultants hired earlier this year from Garmann-Miller Architects and Engineers of Minster to discuss continuing planning for the project for the plaza area between the Courthouse and Safety Building in Troy.

The commissioners agreed earlier that at least some work, including removal of decorative paver bricks and small steps on the Courthouse Plaza, needed to take place for safety reasons regardless if the county received the requested $1.5 million in state funding.

Commission President John “Bud” O’Brien said April 3 the commission continues to need project concepts that could assist in pursuing at least pieces of a project the commissioners hoped would also include lighting on the Courthouse Plaza. Where funding might come from remains undetermined though another capital budget request in two years might be possible, he said.

The state rejection of funding will allow more time to explore the project, but commissioners agreed work needs to continue. “The conditions are not getting any better,” said Leigh Williams, the commissioners’ clerk/administrator.

The commission hired Garmann-Miller for $80,000 for a project study and $40,000 for a preliminary design phase. The company will handle arrangements for preliminary studies of the 1970s plaza, lighting, drainage problems, fountains and underground tunnels.

Initial work to be done will include having surveyors report on the site along with discussions with the local historical society on its thoughts about the project that would include work near the 1880s county Courthouse, Chris Monnin and Kathy Trejo of Garman Miller said. The Safety Building to the east was built in the 1970s.

Trejo said the consultants would provide the commission an array of concepts from “minimal to extreme” for review and possible adjustments.

The biggest issue the county needs to address with the plaza is the settling of pavers, caused in part by leaking pipes underground, said Chris Johnson, county director of operations and facilities. Old tunnels are located underneath a portion of the plaza and house wiring.

“We have some idea of what we have underground but we’re not completely sure,” O’Brien said.

Among other plaza features that will be studied are two fountains built from pillars of the old county jail that was located on the site. The plaza also is home to the Miami County Law Enforcement Memorial and memorial trees.

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