County asks Village of Paw Paw to vacate section of St. Joseph Street to accommodate proposed courthouse expansion
PAW PAW - The Paw Paw Village Council reviewed and discussed last month the site plans for the courthouse expansion project proposed by Van Buren County Commissioners. The plans call for construction of an addition on the south side of the existing complex, across what is currently a one-block section of St. Joseph Street.
Jason Vetne, and architect for DLZ, the project manager, presented a complete overview of the plans, but told the council what was specifically necessary was that the village grant a conditional intent to vacate a portion of St. Joseph Street between Kalamazoo to Niles streets.
In response to the village’s earlier concerns about increased traffic on Paw Paw and Berrien streets, the county conducted a traffic impact study, which determined that at stop light at Berrien and Kalamazoo streets may be necessary. The Michigan Depart-ment of Transportation would have final say on that, but Paw Paw Village Manager Larry Nielsen told the council the county would pick up the cost of the light.
Representatives from the county and DLZ were on hand at both February meetings to offer information and answer questions. They stressed the security and public safety needs for the new courtroom facilities.
“Van Buren County has been very good to work with, making sure we understand the plans,” said Village President Roman Plaszczak. “This is an exciting project. These are good changes for the community. The courts haves changed over the years; they are much busier. The changes and improvements here are necessary.”
Following discussion, council members voted to adopt Resolution 17-05. The resolution states that if there are no changes in the commitments made by Van Buren County, which include the county paying all costs associated with relocation of utilities and installation of the traffic light, the village would approve vacating the portion of St. Joseph Street between Kalamazoo and Niles streets.
According to Vetne, the new court facility will bring the county's court operations up to the current recommended state standards for security, prisoner movement, public safety and convenience, jury facilities, and attorney and client conference facilities. The plans offer secure entrances for judges and juveniles.
County voters will decide in May whether to fund the project with a millage.