Corden Porter

The Clark County Commissioners are in talks with Greater Clark County Schools about a potential lease —with an option to buy — the now-vacant Corden Porter building on Meigs Avenue, to house some of the courts administration offices.

JEFFERSONVILLE — The Clark County Commissioners and Greater Clark County Schools are in talks over a potential lease agreement that, if entered, is expected to save the county not only money but provide room to grow over at least the next decade.

On Monday, the commissioners met with the Clark County Council for a special workshop to update the council on several matters, including the potential to use the Corden Porter building on Meigs Avenue to house some courts administrative offices when the county offices relocate to the new government center under construction at the edge of River Ridge next year.

Clark County Commissioners President Jack Coffman said during the meeting that Greater Clark is now drawing up a proposed lease agreement for the two-story, 18,000-square-foot building adjacent to the current Clark County government center on Court Avenue, with an option to later buy it.

If they come to an agreement, the courts’ community corrections program, juvenile probation department, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and Clark County Family Recovery Court would be under one roof near the courthouse, rather than held in several other leased spaces in the county.

And although Coffman didn’t name the associated lease price yet, he said it’s less than the roughly $6,000 the county is or was paying to rent space for these departments currently. Family Recovery Court has been without a permanent home since the building on Court Avenue where it was held burned in December.

“The Corden Porter building would put us in a position to not have to worry about space for the next 10-20 years,” Coffman told the council members in attendance, adding that he sees it as a great fit for the county’s needs.

“I was impressed with the condition of the building,” he said, adding that it has had upgrades within the past decade. “It literally looked brand new.”

Clark County Council President Barbara Hollis said the use of space sounded like “a great idea,” although nothing will be formalized until the commissioners and council vote on the matter, which is still in the early stages.

If the plan is approved, it would be another step in solving the county government’s long-growing space issues. The new $6.2 million Clark County Government Center, which Clark County owns two-thirds of and the River Ridge Development Authority owns a third of, is expected to allow the office-holders and departments room to operate more efficiently and provide better service to the community.

The need became more apparent when legislators granted the county two new courts, which were implemented at the start of July.

Coffman said he meets weekly with both the architectural and construction team, to go over design and layout of the new space.

“And we constantly go over the design, the floors the layout of the offices,” Coffman said, adding that the construction documents will soon be turned over to the builder to start the bidding process for walls and other interior construction.

The plans include an eye on improving service to Clark County residents by arranging the offices in a more flow-friendly way and upgrading security features for staff. For instance, almost all offices used daily by the public will be on the first floor, as opposed to the current layout of the downtown building.

“Hopefully we’re going to make it more convenient for our citizens [and] we think it will make the offices operate more efficiently,” he said, adding that starting from scratch means they can enhance safety as well.

That was something Clark County Council Member John Miller, who’s also a police officer, asked about during the meeting. Security features will include bulletproof glass between the public and staff, with smaller pass-through areas for documents and payments. Security will be provided during public government meetings, as it now, and Coffman said the county will likely partner with River Ridge to hire security during the day as well.

Other updates include upcoming signage, 38-foot-flags, a large community break area and a shared $40,000 to $50,000 generator that will protect the county and River Ridge server and IT areas if there is an outage.

“We know we have to have backup power,” Coffman said.

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