News Department

Design proposal for New Morris County Courthouse reviewed

MORRISTOWN, NJ (Morris County) – The Morris County Board of County Commissioners Wednesday night reviewed a design proposal for a new courthouse slated for a county-owned parcel on Schuyler Place in Morristown, after a presentation of the design by architects contracted for the project.

Roger Lichtman, Lisa Tsang and Francis Cooke of the Clifton-based infrastructure firm, AECOM, presented the design proposal cleared by a three-member Courthouse Committee of the Board of Commissioners. The design involves an approximately 119,000-square-foot project offering eight new courtrooms, a jury assembly room, meeting rooms, security areas and a secured, three-story glass entrance foyer.

The overall project, pared down from one originally presented prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, will meet the modern safety, security and space needs required to properly support the county’s criminal Superior Court operations. The new building will include eight floors constructed on a county parking lot next to the existing Morris County Administration & Records Building.

“This afternoon’s presentation by AECOM represents the Courthouse Committee’s unanimous recommendation for the exterior composition of the structure. Specific exterior colors and materials are still being evaluated but the rendering and relationship to the environs is a good representation of the final project,” said Commissioner Stephen Shaw, Chairman of the Courthouse Committee.

“You will note that the presentation includes some interior views because the committee recognized early on that you cannot make decisions about the exterior without understanding the impacts to the interior.  The objective this afternoon is to go through the recommendation, answer questions and get a consensus from the board to permit AECOM to proceed to the Construction Document Phase,” Shaw said.

The board unanimously consented to proceed to the construction document phase, although some Commissioners expressed an interest in incorporating some changes to the proposed exterior design.

Among those who attended the meeting tonight were Sheriff James Gannon, Superior Court Assignment Judge Stuart Minkowitz of the Morris/Sussex Court Vicinage, Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty and Steven J. Loewenthal, president of the Morris County Bar Association.

The Courthouse Committee includes Commissioners Deborah Smith and Douglas Cabana.

Providing adequate court facilities and securing those facilities are the sole responsibility of each respective county in New Jersey. To assess those needs, the county commissioned a Space Needs and Facilities Assessment in 2017.

That assessment, completed in 2018, identified a significant shortfall in criminal, family and civil court facilities, and detailed the outdated conditions in the existing courthouse complex, which includes the historic courthouse along Washington Street originally constructed in 1827.

That building was augmented three times before 1900, according to Judge Minkowitz, noting other portions were added in the 1950s and 1970s. The complex, situated along Washington Street between Court Street and Western Avenue, will be preserved, but is not suitable to continue most court operations.

The County Commissioners, then known as Freeholders, held public hearings prior to their unanimous vote to adopt two capital ordinances in late 2018 to fund the design phases of a new courthouse along Schuyler Place. Balancing the needs of the court system with the financial concerns of county taxpayers has continued throughout the process and involved the county government administration, Commissioners, members of the judiciary, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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