Courthouse awaits approval for construction


Patrons fill the old Jimmy Johns restaurant on July 19, 2012 for customer appreciation day. Jimmy Johns moved next to Kent Stage on Main St. and the old building was demolished on Monday, Nov. 12. Photo by Matt Hafley.

Kelly Maile

Site work is underway for the new Kent courthouse on East Main Street after Portage County officials began to demolish the old Jimmy John’s building Nov. 8.

“They officially broke ground, all that really means so far is that they are clearing the old site,” said Tommie Jo Marsilio, the vice president of the board of Portage County Commissioners. “A majority of the board has agreed on a tentative floor plan and they have not yet finalized a budget.”

Kent’s new courthouse building will be approximately four times the size of the current building, about 25,000 square feet for 20 employees. The building costs were originally estimated as seven to $8 million.

“The last I heard, the costs were up as high as $11 million, which is where I said hold on, we have to put the brakes on this, that’s too much,” Marsilio said. “I don’t think we have consensus to think that an additional $3 million is too much more to spend, but that remains to be seen.”

Jennifer Barone, the development engineer at Kent Community Development Department, said they are only in the first phase of the demolition. The next step is to get a site permit.

“We need to get a site permit with all the utility information, and they also have a permit application for the steel, which is the outside shell,” Barone said. “Once they have that they will get their building permit.”

Barone said the Kent Community Development Department will have a preconstruction meeting to discuss specifications; however, they have not scheduled the meeting and the new building has not been approved yet.

But Marsilio said she thinks the board of commission needs to approve a final budget before moving forward.

“When the final plans happen and once we have the blueprints, then those will be put out to bid, and individuals can bid on the right to construct the actual project,” Marsilio said.

There is no time estimate for when the project will be complete, but Marsilio hopes to agree on a final budget in the near future and build a smaller and more reasonable courthouse for the city of Kent.

“It’s up in the air,” Marsilio said. “It won’t take that long to actually build it, but I think the best question is, ‘When will we agree on a dollar amount that’s appropriate to spend, and when will we agree on a final floor plan?’ ”

Contact Kelly Maile at [email protected]/a>.