Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, joined by members of the Howard County Council, local government officials, and others, this week broke ground on a new, state-of-the-art Howard County Circuit Courthouse. The 238,000 square foot facility will be completed through a public-private partnership, a first for the County.
The existing courthouse was built more than 175 years ago and has numerous safety issues that impact access to justice. The new courthouse will be certified, at a minimum, LEED Silver for sustainability, with a push for Gold status.
The project will reduce impervious surfaces by 50%, without removing existing trees. In fact, over 100 new trees will be planted on the project site.
“Our new Courthouse will enhance public safety and security, while also improving sustainability,” said Ball. “The current Courthouse is almost two centuries old and is simply not equipped to handle our population, increased caseloads, technology needs, and maximize victim safety. As we break ground on the largest capital project in the history of our county, we are ushering in a new era of safety, innovation, and justice in Howard County.”
“This groundbreaking of our new courthouse is symbolic for so many reasons, but most notably, it signifies progress for our citizens and our county,” said Howard County Council Vice Chair Opel Jones. “On behalf of the Howard County Council, congratulations on this groundbreaking.”
According to a press release:
The new Courthouse design features a four-story atrium, a large entryway that will provide safety screening for those entering the Courthouse and separate hallways and elevators for prisoners. The Courthouse will also include office space for the Howard County State’s Attorney, Howard County Sheriff, Howard County Bar Association, Maryland Public Defender, Clerk of the Court, and Register of Wills, among others, a courtroom for a sixth judge, a larger and more comfortable jury assembly area, and a 682-space parking garage adjacent to the building.
“Thank you to Howard County for being such a great partner,” said Edgemoor-Star America Judicial Partners CEO Brian Dugan. “Numerous public-sector owners, reporters, conference hosts, and others have contacted me and our consortium trying to learn from our partnership with Howard County and understand just how Howard County did it, and did it so efficiently. Our success sends a strong positive signal to private companies that want to do work with Howard County or locate their businesses here.”
“I am thrilled that the new Circuit Courthouse will better serve the litigants, attorneys and the public at large,” said Judge Lenore R. Gelfman. “The new Courthouse and technology will allow safe, efficient access to justice for everyone.”
“We are all incredibly grateful to see the new courthouse move one step closer to fruition,” said Howard County State’s Attorney Richard Gibson, Jr. “The facility will fulfill three important goals for our office: enhanced security of the public, better communication between prosecutors, and a more functional, courtroom design.”
“We, in the Sherriff’s Department, take pride in our responsibility to protect the Courthouse,” said Howard County Sheriff Marcus Harris. “We’ve been involved in every step of the process to build the new Courthouse with improved security. The new Courthouse will be beautiful, but most importantly it is going to be one of the safest court buildings in the country.”
The new Howard County Circuit Courthouse is scheduled to be completed in July 2021.
Read more about the project and the partnership with Edgemoor-Star America Judicial Partners here. Watch conceptual animation of the project here. Find video from the groundbreaking and demolition event here and photos here.