County Cuts Ribbon on Justice Complex Expansion 9 New Courtrooms Add the Necessary Space for the Family Courts & Criminal Courts
(Woodbury, NJ)- The Gloucester County Board of Freeholders were joined today by the New Jersey Supreme Court Justice, the Acting Administrative Director of the Courts for New Jersey, the Assignment Judge and dozens of members of the Judiciary, Bar Association and officials at the ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the expansion of the County's Justice Complex on Hunter Street.
"Today represents a milestone in Gloucester County. Over a decade of planning has gone into making this expansion a reality. I am extremely proud that the Gloucester County Board of Freeholders and the Assignment Judge and Judiciary could work together to create a Justice Complex that makes our judiciary system safer and more efficient for our residents today and for the future," stated Freeholder Director Stephen M. Sweeney.
Sweeney said, "This expansion project has been a journey that we have taken in steps, and each step has a yielded an improvement to the citizens of Gloucester County. Today we stand in our county seat with the safe, modern justice complex that our residents deserve."
Sweeney said that in 1998 Assignment Judge Samuel DeSimone formed the Judicial Planning Committee for Capital Development because the space and security issue facing the courts had become serious. The Justice Complex that was built in 1983 fell seriously short on space and security. The Committee, comprised of members of the Superior Court, the Bar Association, the Trial Court Association, the County and the City of Woodbury, developed a comprehensive plan to address the growing needs of the courts and security issues for both the courts and the public. A 1999 study issued by the Committee deemed a major expansion to the physical courts system as necessary to meet the growing demands of the growing region, and provide ample security for the courts and public.
"When I became a Freeholder the Family Courts were located next door to my office and people would be yelling at each other from across the hall and inmates would be walked through the hallways. It was a bad situation for everyone, the public, the judges, and our staff. I saw firsthand how serious the space shortage was and how it impacted so many people," Director Sweeney said.
A cooperative effort of the Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Courts led to the creation of a Master Plan for a large scale expansion to meet the needs of the courts, while taking into consideration the financial impact for the county taxpayers by breaking the expansion into several phases.
Freeholder Deputy Director Robert M. Damminger said that the Freeholder Board made certain that the Master Plan took future growth of the county into consideration. "We made sure that this expansion would last well into the future," said Freeholder Deputy Director Damminger. "We were left with a broken system, but today when you enter Gloucester County's courts, you will know you are in a safe place where justice will be served efficiently," said Damminger.
The completion of the Master Plan has included the creation of a surface parking lot on Hunter Street (completed 2000), renovation of the former First Union Building on the Corner of Delaware and Broad Street (completed 2001), construction of two new parking structures (completed in 2001 and 2009), renovation of courtrooms and administrative space in the Old Courthouse (completed in 2004), renovations and expansions to the County Clerk's Office (completed 2005).
The expansion unveiled today consists of Jury Assembly and administrative offices for Family Division, Finance Division and Criminal Division Courts on the first floor. The second floor has four courtrooms and four judges' chambers, conference rooms, juvenile intake and a law library. The Third Floor has five courtrooms, five judges chambers and a jury deliberation room for grand jurors, and adequate space for security and support systems in the basement.
The County plans to ultimately move its administrative offices to the Delaware and Broad Street Building where Family Court is currently located.