Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Court/police building plan wins acceptance

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFIELD - Ed Carson was among the Fairfield residents who opposed a new downtown Justice Center - until he saw plans for the $10 million building.

"I have no problems (with it). I think it will be a great addition to the city," said Carson, a Fairfield businessman who lives a few blocks from the old Kroger site at Nilles Road and Pleasant Avenue.

City leaders Monday saw the first plans for a 45,000-square-foot municipal court and police headquarters on the 8.5 acres across from the municipal building.

Council approved the concept of having the adjoining buildings on the east edge of the property, abutting the post office, with green space along the city's main streets. Architect Michael Schuster also allotted space for police and court expansion, plus a two-story retail/office building near Pleasant Avenue.

"We want to keep all our options open," said Councilman Mark Scharringhausen. "I think this is a great launching point."

The building would replace the police-court building in the former Duff's restaurant on Ohio 4, across from Fairfield Central Elementary School. It would triple the space for the two departments, said City Manager Art Pizzano.

Some residents had objected to building a justice center on the old Kroger site, saying the prime downtown property should remain retail. Others feared the city was planning to build a jail. The city, however, keeps accused lawbreakers in holding cells for only a few hours before transferring them to the Butler County Jail in Hamilton.

Last month council rejected Councilman Marty Judd's request to reconsider the location.

Carson, a 45-year resident, said he was convinced that "a bunch of bad guys" wouldn't be "hanging out" at the new downtown facility.

"I'm excited about it," Carson said.


E-mail jkiesewetter@enquirer.com

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