LITTLE VALLEY – In an age where safety is a key concern, especially in public and governmental areas, many courthouses have had improvements made to protect judges, attorneys and jurors from potential dangers. That is part of the drive for planned changes on the second floor of the Cattaraugus County Building in Little Valley.
While the courtroom is on the third floor, many offices, a jury room and a library have been housed on the second floor of the building for quite some time. A considerable amount of space on that level has been taken by the legal library, a room full of books and reference resources for attorneys.
“With a lot of the resources attorneys use going to an electronic form, even online, the need for a room full of books is no longer there,” Mark Burr, engineer for the county, told the members of the County Legislature’s Public Works Committee.
The room currently housing the library will be converted to space for conferences and jury deliberations. The library will move down a hall, closer to the judges’ and attorneys offices. Those offices will be down a hall guarded with a swipe card-operated door, offering a buffer between them and the public.
In addition, a restroom will be relocated, offering the ability to create a counter that can be used to service those who have business to conduct with the court.
The renovations also are expected to uncover asbestos-insulated pipes in the ceiling, Burr said. Instead of planning to work around that and covering them back up, he said the plan would be to abate the substance.
Renovation costs for the court system areas are estimated to be around $240,000. That amount would be reimbursed, according to County Administrator Jack Searles.
“This would be a reimbursement,” he told the committee. “We will need to spend the money to get it back. There will need to be very specific resolutions in the Legislature. We will want to make sure we spend only what we are going to get back.”
According to Burr and Searles, the New York State Unified Court System has given unofficial approval of the project. The official notice will come in the form of a letter from that department.
“We will start work on this when we get the letter,” Searles said.