WILMINGTON — County commissioners and the president of an architecture-and-interior-design firm regrouped Wednesday to expedite a courthouse project, meeting together and conducting a walk-through of spaces slated for the operations of two county departments.
The Adult Probation Department and the Public Defender’s Office are the two county government units being relocated at the courthouse into office spaces that will be re-designed to accommodate the particular work conducted by the two departments.
As previously reported, two county commissioners expressed dissatisfaction March 6 with some services related to the re-design phase of the project.
After the appointment and walk-through Wednesday, Clinton County Commissioners President Brenda K. Woods was feeling better about things.
“I appreciate the opportunity to share our concerns with Bill [Casler]. I feel he now understands [the goal] to remodel in the most economical way and yet meeting the needs of the departments that will be utilizing it. I look forward to the [design] revisions he is going to provide in the near future,” said Woods, who was the most outspoken of the commissioners March 6 in expressing dissatisfaction.
For his part, Casler Design Group President Bill Casler was willing Wednesday to do the new design work for what he said would be a minimal cost. He also said he would have given a higher construction cost estimate to commissioners early on if he had been aware of how expensive the mechanicals would end up.
He said his firm responded to the county’s request to have “private offices and acoustically private spaces” in the re-designed spaces, but those things ratcheted up the construction cost.
“It’s not really what I had a picture of in my head when we got started,” he said.
Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed suggested there was a communication lapse between the two parties after an initial design was approved.
Clinton County Commissioner Mike McCarty asked Chief Probation Officer and Adult Probation Director Stephanie Blust, who attended the meeting and walk-through, what she thought as an end-user of one of the pending office re-locations.
Blust said that without individual offices, she feels the Adult Probation Department staffers and clients will not obtain the privacy they need during their face-to-face meetings. Some of those meetings, she said, are confrontational, argumentative and emotional, and without the private offices, the department would be back where it started by having only a little bit of privacy as currently is the case where it has close quarters.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.