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Courthouse move to corp. center planned for mid-February

The state is now predicting that its temporary Franklin County Courthouse on Munson Street will be ready for occupancy by Valentine’s Day, with construction of a $60 million permanent courthouse expansion-renovation expected to begin around March 1.

Workers at the Greenfield Corporate Center have been busy preparing the 46,000-square-foot, three-story temporary space for a target occupancy date of Friday, Feb. 14. Plans call for court furnishings to be moved over that three-day weekend with no disruption of court functions.

The exact schedule is subject to minor tweaking, but after a variety of project delays over the years, the latest announcement is being greeted with sighs of relief from courthouse personnel who had been originally told the move would come a year earlier.

Part of the cause for delay was that design of the space and other negotiations took longer than anticipated.

“It clearly looks like it’s turned a corner to wind toward completion,” said Franklin County Register of Probate and Family Court John F. Merrigan, a former state legislator who has been instrumental in keeping a fire under the project that has been in the works for 14 years. Merrigan said that he’s inspected the Munson Street office complex for which the state is paying $1.7 million a year for what’s expected to be 2½ to three years of construction.

“They’ve done a phenomenal job creating a safe environment for the employees and the people who need to come to court,” he said of the temporary courthouse, which is being retrofitted according to current state guidelines to provide for the safety of judges, court officers and others using the building.

Those features include video surveillance, a security command center, protected transportation and secure holding areas for defendants.

The courthouse, built in 1935, is to be expanded from about 44,000 to 104,000 square feet, with the addition of a three-story, roughly 30,000-square-foot addition on its southern end.

Meanwhile, work is continuing on creation of a new entry road between the Greenfield Community YMCA’s upper and lower parking lots to separate those areas from the area of the expanded courthouse.

Franklin Regional Transit Authority, meanwhile, has been weighing the addition of a shuttle bus with eight runs between the corporate center and downtown as part of schedule changes that would take effect in March, but a vote Wednesday night appeared to delay the implementation of that route until at least July.

The budget for furniture, furnishings and equipment has been approved by the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Construction and their procurements are under way, anticipating they will be ready for the February occupancy.

Officials for the state court system and spokesmen for the Greenfield Corporate Center were not available to comment for this article.

You can reach Richie Davis at: rdavis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, Ext. 269

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