Rockwall County commissioners learned last week that justice of the peace courtrooms will not be completed when the rest of the Rockwall County Courthouse is ready for occupancy on Sept. 30.
Commissioners got the news during a regular meeting on May 10 while considering a motion to authorize Manhattan Construction Co. to proceed with the third floor project.
Before the vote, County Judge Jerry Hogan asked Nick Link of Manhattan if the court’s approval Tuesday of the “notice to proceed” would give the construction company enough time to complete the work by the end of September.
Link responded, saying the third floor project would be completed about 36 days after the “substantially complete date” of Sept. 30 for the rest of the courthouse. He said the justice of the peace courtrooms and offices would be completed in mid- to late November.
The courthouse project will involve constructing two justice of the peace courtrooms and offices for four justices of the peace, four constables and support staff. The third floor project, which will cost $695,535, was not part of original plans for the courthouse that’s under construction.
During the discussion, Justice of the Peace Nancy Beaty said she and fellow Justice of the Peace Jack James were concerned about the availability of “secured restroom” facilities on the third floor for judges, prosecutors, jurors and staff members.
“At this time the third floor does not have a secured restroom,” Beaty said. “I would ask that the (commissioners) court follow the footprint of the first, second and fourth floor by installing a secured restroom in an area where existing plumbing already passes to the third floor.”
With current plans, Beaty said, a trip to the restroom for judges would be “quite a trek.”
Commissioner Jerry Wimpee said “a practical point of view is the court’s position by and large that we can build things today cheaper than we can tomorrow.”
“My question is what is the cost to build it today to avoid the cost of what it will be five or six years from now?” Wimpee asked.
A short time later, Hogan voiced his opinion on the restroom issue, then called for the vote.
“Is it absolutely essential that we have a latrine?” Hogan said. “It doesn’t seem to me that it is.”
Commissioner Lorie Grinnan’s motion to give Manhattan Consruction Co. a notice to proceed for the third floor building for justice of the peace offices was approved by a 3-1 vote. Hogan, Grinnan and David Magness voted in favor of the motion. Wimpee cast the lone dissenting vote. Dennis Bailey was absent.