Those attending Municipal Court in Grovetown will be headed soon to a spacious new courthouse.
The city used $575,000 in special purpose local option sales tax funds to buy an 8,000-square-foot building on Robinson Avenue at Katherine Street.
The former location of Cornerstone Apostolic Church sat unoccupied for two years and is being slightly renovated to become the courthouse.
"It is something that is long overdue," said City Councilman Robert Newman, who spearheaded the purchase and renovation of the building. "It is set up just how we need it."
For the past few years, court has been held twice each month inside the council chambers at City Hall.
Grovetown Department of Public Safety Chief Al Robinson said there were never enough parking spaces available and cars often lined Old Wrightsboro Road and East Robinson Avenue during evening court sessions.
"Some people came early just to get a parking space," he said.
The Municipal Court judge hears an average of 75 cases a month, Robinson said.
The former church's sanctuary will provide ample room for court proceedings and numerous offices and storage areas, a large parking lot with three entrances.
Laura McManus, the department's clerk of court, will have an office in the building, which will also serve as storage for the department's files. McManus will no longer have to transport files from the Grovetown Department of Public Safety headquarters to City Hall for court.
"It is really exciting," she said.
City officials had been discussing the idea of using the local option sales tax money to construct a new fire station on Harlem-Grovetown Road that would include a room for court.
The construction would cost more than $1 million, Newman said, adding that buying a building already available in the city's downtown area is much more convenient and saves money.
The building, which also is a former Bill's Dollar Store, includes a sound and lighting system, chairs and other furniture.
To build a similar building would cost nearly $7 million, Newman said.
A few renovations are necessary, including construction of a holding cell. Some walls will be added to separate a few larger rooms into offices and some recessed paintings in the lobby will be cut out and donated to area churches, Robinson said.
The building should be ready for use by the end of July, Robinson said.
Eventually, Robinson said he hopes court sessions can be held once each week and during daytime hours to avoid disrupting City Hall business and make the court and records systems more efficient.
The building also can be used for other city purposes, including programs for seniors and the Hispanic community, Robinson said.
"It'll be a lot more convenient for everybody," Grovetown Mayor George James said. "It'll really be a good asset for us."
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