Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Medina City has Millions in Bank, Why Isn't It Building New Courthouse?

Here's an interesting story that appeared in the Medina County Gazette. According to this story, the City of Medina is carrying a balance of 34.1 million dollars, while the county is apparently losing revenue and threatening layoffs. So, given the fact that the City has a lot of money, and given the fact that the City insisted that the County build a new courthouse in downtown Medina, why isn't the City ponying up more money? 

When the County Commissioners were considering moving the Domestic Relations and Juvenile Courts away from the square, there was an anguished outcry from downtown business interests. "You can't do that", they cried. "That will hurt our square." (For those of you who don't know downtown Medina it does have a very nice central park surrounded by a business district dominated by buildings done in an 1890s style. It is quite charming.)

So, the Board of County Commissioners re-examined their plans and decided to expand the present county courthouse. Of course, this meant that the already cramped parking situation had also to be addressed. The solution to the parking problem was to build a new parking garage. So, instead of building a new courthouse at a location where there would be enough room for parking, or instead of buying an existing structure on the square, (and there were such structures available), the County Commissioners are planning on building a new addition to the present courthouse, building a new parking deck, all at considerable expense and all while they are talking about laying off county employees. 

Now, to be fair, the City of Medina, as well as the County Library, agreed to help pay for the cost of the parking deck, but, given the fact that it was downtown merchants who wanted the county courts to stay downtown, and given the fact that the City of Medina is apparently flush with cash, shouldn't the City had been asked to do more? 

Maybe one reason why the City wasn't asked to do more is that both the City Mayor and  the City Council President, as well as all three the County Commissioners are Republicans. So maybe the Commissioners weren't in the mood to do some tough negotiating with the City. Negotiating by telling the City to either pony up more money for the courthouse expansion, or the County was going to build a new courthouse at a location outside of Medina City limits. A location in the surrounding townships, and not only would there be a possibility of a loss of business revenue, but the City would also lose income tax revenue. 

None of that was done, however, and while the City brags about its 34.1 million dollar balance, county employees worry about losing their jobs.


Anonymous said...

They need to make sure that they get stimulus money for the project. It sounds like exactly what they are looking for. Hopefully they've been in touch with Boccieri and Sutton as well as the State. They could probably get most of it paid for with Federal funds if they are ready to go with building.

Anonymous said...

I think it's crazy to think the city should pony up more money for the expansion. They're already paying over 70% for the parking garage, which the county will be using the majority of the time. The square is the heart of this county and it needs help. This will not solve the problem, but it's a positve move for the future. Wasn't cheaper for the county to stay on their existing footprint? I would not fault the city for trying to keep the courts uptown, any other community would do the same in this situation. If the county is so broke, why was there such a rush for the expansion? The city worked very hard to meet the counties timeline for the construction of the deck, but in the end the city's ready to go and the county is not. I would think there is some responsibilty from the county to help and keep their county seat and historic square vibrant and healthy. And just because the city currently is financially sound, doesn't mean they need to break the bank.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the county calculated that it would be cheaper to build a new facility somewhere else. The reason that two of the three commissioners decided to go with expanding the existing facility is that Medina political leaders and businesses wanted the expansion. That's one reason why the city agreed to help pay for the new parking deck.

As far as the Medina public square being the "heart of the county", just ask people in Brunswick or Wadsworth if they consider the Medina public square to be the heart of the county. You might be surprised by their replies.