County looks at 1899 courthouse fatePublished 3:43pm Monday, February 25, 2013
CASSOPOLIS — Cass County commissioners are kicking off what Administrator Louis Csokasy expects could be a two-year process evaluating the mothballed 1899 courthouse.
Meeting Feb. 21 in the adjacent annex which houses county offices, Csokasy said, “I know there have been a number of studies done. We’ve looked at all of those. Everybody wants to talk about the cost, but we’re turning it around and taking a hard look at its function — what the building would be used for. In previous studies, cost drove use, which is backwards. Use needs to drive cost, not cost drive use. We’ve contacted an architect and asked him for the cost of giving us a floor layout for the annex and the old building. Cost is not to exceed $10,000.”
The architect is Tony Leininger of Carmi Design Group in Edwardsburg.
Csokasy said an initial meeting was attended by three commissioners, Roseann Marchetti, Vice Chair Bernie Williamson and Chairman Skip Dyes, County Treasurer Linda Irwin and Silver Creek Township Supervisor Bill Saunders as chairman of the county building authority.
“In my view,” Csokasy said, “we can’t have that building sit there another eight or 10 years. My idea is to bring you a good, better and best” array of options. One might be demolition.
“There’s no preconceived notion of what the best alternative is,” Csokasy said.
“Personally, I’d rather see our energy put into moving to a new building instead of trying to rehab the old courthouse,” Commissioner Robert Wagel, R-Wayne Township, said, citing the Pokagon Band as “what can be accomplished with modern technology and innovation.
“I realize this building should be preserved in some manner, but not allocated for county offices. If I was a businessman trying to bring a business into this county and walked into that old courthouse, I’d say, ‘There’s something wrong here, these people are back in (the 19th century)’ and would go to some other county. I want to save the courthouse, but not for county offices. Our employees deserve a nice structure to work in and so do our citizens doing county business.”
Csokasy also reported the county’s cash position — $5,091,586 for February — is $1 million better than 2011 and almost $2 million better than 2012.