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Entry, security cameras in focus at courthouse

Entry, security cameras in focus at courthouse

Visibility and safety top concerns, say County Board members

When the duties of the Floyd County Jail were on track last year to be downsized, Charles City officials arrived in the County Board’s meeting room at the courthouse to express their concerns.

Now, the County Board is making plans to visit City Hall to talk about the future of the jail, the courthouse and the possibility of municipal and county operations sharing space. County Board Chairman Doug Kamm said last week at the board’s workshop that he’ll set up that meeting. The courthouse has long been a discussion topic for the board. Aside from following up with the city on the study of options for public facilities in Charles City that was conducted by FEH Designs, last week, the board continued discussing a security camera upgrade and what to do about the main entrance, which is on the north side of the building not the more ornate entry facing Main Street.

County personnel are working on specifications for the security camera upgrade after the County Board decided it needs to put the project out for competitive bids because the quotes it has received are higher than expected.

On the entrance issue, Kamm has been exploring options to improve the main entrance. The primary concern is making the situation safer for elderly and people with disabilities. The space between the automatic doors is less than desired and people have been caught in a door before. He’s explored “every configuration” with businesses specializing in entry doors. Each had significant hurdles or drawbacks because the the location and courthouse structure.

“It’s at the point you just have to have an architect figure out something,” Kamm said.

The only certainty is that it needs to be improved for the county’s customers — the general public, he said.

“The whole thing is not very handy … the fact that you have to park across the street and walk over here and … but, short of spending $500,000 I don’t know what else to do,” Kamm said.

That is roughly the price tag to build a vestibule at the entrance to widen the space between doors. None of the supervisors pushed for that option. The doors are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, however, Supervisor Mark Kuhn said. Still a basic problem exists.

“The problem is always the same, we follow the ADA, but when you get one person in there trying to help another person through the door and they’re not very fast, that’s when the trouble is, because you get two people between the two doors there,” Kamm said. “And the other thing is they have to walk across the street.”

Perhaps a solution will come out of the facilities studies the county invested in along with the city, Charles City School District and the Charles City YMCA. That solution would be years off, the supervisors agreed.

“Even if we rush the jail thing through we’re probably two years off, and that would be flying,” Supervisor Roy Schwickerath said. “Things don’t go that fast, we know that.”

Between now and then, the county can do something, he said.

“Something is going to happen with this jail issue one way or another,” Schwickerath said.

“You’re either going to build a jail or you’re going to buy a paddy waggon and haul them somewhere,” Kamm said.

“So my point was, coming back to the fact that if we put a canopy on there and it lasts five years, five years from now we’re going to have something figured out, we’re going to have a direction in mind, we better have,” Schwickerath said. “And so I still think a canopy there wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, some kind of sign that says Floyd County Courthouse main entrance.

Kamm said he’d talk to a business about the canopy option.

By Chris Baldus [email protected]

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