MILTON — Northumberland County remains on track to move the office of District Judge Michael Diehl sometime this spring.
In late August, the Northumberland County commissioners closed on the $130,000 purchase of a building on Locust Street, to be renovated to house the judge’s office. The building was previously owned by Evangelical Community Hospital.
Commissioner Chair Rick Shoch said engineer Catino Associates Inc. recently put together bid specifications for renovation work needed inside the building. The project will soon be placed out to bid.
Previously, Shoch expected county employees to be able to handle the work. However, those plans have changed.
“They are going to be busy doing other work on some things, in the courthouse,” he said. “Given the amount of work that needed done (in Milton), and wanting to get it done sooner rather than later, we thought we would get an outside contractor.”
Initial projections were that renovations to the building would cost between $50,000 and $100,000.
Although the county will now be contracting the work out, Shoch said the work should come in close to that amount.
“We weren’t sure if we were going to want to replace the air conditioning system... that was going to be a considerable expense,” Shoch said.
He said the system was inspected and determined to be in “really good shape.” It will not need to be replaced at this time and had been included in the previous estimate.
Shoch hopes the renovations are complete by the spring.
He previously said the county is paying $2,500 per month to lease space for the judge’s office, at the corner of Front Street and Broadway, from Milton Downtown Investors.
Shoch said that space is not big enough to meet the office’s needs.
“(The owners offered us) a couple of different options, all of which required us to put money up front to renovate that space,” he said. “Under option one, which was offered, we would have had to pay $100,000 up front to renovate space that we don’t own.”
Under that option, Shoch said the current judge’s office space would have been expanded into an adjacent vacant building.
That would have given the office slightly more square footage than what it will be obtaining from the Locust Street property, Shoch said.
However, he said the space would not have been configured to meet the needs of the office. In addition, he said the county would have been locked into a lease until the 2030s, with the lease amount “constantly increasing.”
In an unrelated manner, Shoch said he and fellow Republican Commissioner Sam Schiccatano intend to announce in the near future whether they will seek reelection in 2019.
Vinny Clausi, a Democrat who previously served as commissioner, announced his candidacy Wednesday.