ADRC, County Speak on Municipal Court Objections
Left, the Lincoln Center on Water Street in spring 2013. (City-Times photo)
By Jacob Mathias
Portage County officials on Monday expanded on their objection to the new Stevens Point Municipal Court in the Lincoln Center.
The use of the Lincoln Center as the location for the new city municipal court was voted down by the Aging and Disability Resource Center on March 6, leaving the city unsure of where the court may be held, with the next possible location being an empty space located at the Stevens Point Water Department building, just over a mile away from the county court house.
Security is the largest issue of concern with ADRC and county officials, as well as there being no definitive schedule for court hearings- a schedule that will be decided by the municipal court judge, who has yet to be hired.
“The mayor certainly emphasized that they believed it would be after hours but that it’s ultimately up to the judge,” said Cindy Piotrowski, ADRC director.
“The main concerns that I heard were related to the security of the equipment,” said Portage County Executive Patty Dreier. “We have computers in the open area of the lobby. So if you’re open after hours and someone’s not standing around to police those things, those things can walk out the door.”
Dreier also voiced concerns about the compatibility of the uses of the building.
“These folks are going because they were accused of breaking the law, and these people are over here in different programming doing something else,” said Dreier.
The City of Stevens Point currently owns the Lincoln Center and it is rented by the county. The city uses the center for government meetings based on conditions of the lease and it is still in question whether a court hearing is considered a government meeting.
“I don’t think they ever second- guessed that this was a unique kind of government meeting that perhaps gets a different sort of discussion around it while it certainly has to,” said Dreier.
Mayor Andrew Halverson reported that the Portage County Corporation Counsel Michael Mckenna had objections to the municipal courts location.
“I don’t recall publicly stating anything of that nature,” said McKenna on Monday.
According to McKenna, his office was directed by the Portage County Spaces and Properties Committee to look at drafting a Memorandum Of Understanding regarding the use of the Lincoln Center, but that was all.
Dreier said a March 3 meeting of Spaces & Properties was the first time the county had received any details on the court being held in the Lincoln Center.
“If it comes up again, we’d be willing to sit down and listen to what the city has to say and take it to the ADRC Board,” said Piotrowski.
A call to Mayor Halverson’s office was not returned on Monday.