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Municipal Court employees relish new space
Size and location make all the difference
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Court administrator Carolyn Sullins shelves files in Gainesville’s new public safety complex Wednesday morning as the Municipal Court prepares to open.

Public safety complex ribbon cutting

When: 2 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Under the pecan tree between Gainesville's new police department at 701 Queen City Parkway and new fire department at 725 Pine St.

 

The last group left to move into Gainesville's new public safety complex, Municipal Court, is settling in before holding the first court date next week.

"The ladies are ecstatic about the new space. It's more space than they could imagine," said Melody Marlowe, Gainesville's administrative services director. "They all have individual space for offices and cubicles when before some of them were three to an office."

The new building at 701 Queen City Parkway also has space to accommodate more residents inside the building and courtroom than the old 102 E.E. Butler Parkway location.

"We'll be able to avoid situations where folks were waiting outside in line," Marlowe said. "It's quite an improvement, and the physical appearance of the courtroom demands more respect, so I think it will be more orderly."

Residents should remember to write checks to the new Queen City Parkway address if paying fines. Public parking is located behind the public safety building on Banks Street.

"We still have court Mondays and Thursdays, and we'll start in the new building on Dec. 2," Marlowe said.

"Court procedures will be basically the same. We'll know after a session or two what we need to adjust."

The subtle changes in space and location mean the world to the court secretaries, court administrator Carolyn Sullins said.

"The main thing we've noticed is that we're getting more exercise," she said with a laugh. "It used to take three steps to get to the next desk, and now it takes a little longer to get from one side of the room to the other. We've been cramped for so long, and this space is awesome. The building is so pretty."

Being in the same building with the police department will help with paperwork, she said.

"Police had to deliver tickets and jail money every morning, and now they deposit it in a box in the building and we pick it up," she said. "If there are any questions about a ticket, they can come look right then, rather than us waiting for several days just to ask."

The simplest changes, such as more space for court papers, make all the difference. Instead of 10 filing cabinets, the secretaries now have large shelves that roll on a track in the floor.

"One side of one of these shelves holds the same amount as those 10 cabinets," Sullins said. "Now we're figuring out what else to put on the shelves to fill them up."

Judge Hammond Law also has a separate office, which will further help with the crowded and chaotic nature of court days.

"The biggest advantage is that traffic court traditionally has more people at the court session than any other type, so a more spacious area creates a much better mindset for the people who are waiting and the people who work there," Law said. "We just outgrew the other space, and when people feel squashed in a room where they're already upset to have a ticket, that's not a good situation."

The biggest problem in the E.E. Butler space was noise. During each hourslong court session, Law often had to ask residents to remain quiet.

"People aren't in a good mood when they come in, and if they aren't being quiet, it's harder for me to do my job," he said. "We started court in the old police building, then we went to the Georgia Mountains Center and I was on a stage and then the E.E. Butler location. Space limitations have always been really constraining."

Court will also be an easier process for the police officers, who had to transport inmates in six or seven patrol cars. With a holding cell on the ground floor of the building, officials can now walk them upstairs.

"Everything will be much more convenient," Law said. "I'm looking forward to it."

 

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