Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, along with local and state officials, unveiled the new Howard County Circuit Courthouse in Ellicott City on Tuesday.
The 238,000-square-foot facility was completed as scheduled, despite the coronavirus pandemic, with the help of developer Edgemoor-Star America Judicial Partners through the county’s first public-private partnership, according to a news release.
In summer 2018, the County Council approved the public-private partnership plan for the new courthouse, introduced by then-County Executive Allan Kittleman. A groundbreaking was held in late June 2019.
“Howard County’s new Circuit Courthouse is an outstanding achievement and a model for the rest of our country,” Ball said in a statement. “It’s clear that our team has created a beautiful space that will improve our public safety, is environmentally sustainable and provides greater access to justice for our community.”
The courthouse, at 9250 Judicial Way off U.S. 29 and Route 108, features a four-story atrium, a large entryway for safety screening of those entering the courthouse, and separate elevators and hallways for detainees. It has a courtroom for a sixth judge, a larger and more comfortable jury assembly area, and a 682-space parking garage adjacent to the building.
It also includes office space for the state’s attorney, sheriff, register of wills, clerk of the court, Howard County Bar Association and Office of the Public Defender.
“Our legal clinics and the bar library are both larger and able to provide more resources to more litigants,” Judge William Tucker, county administrative judge for the Howard County Circuit Court, said in a statement. “We will be able to expand alternative dispute resolution programs, interpreter services and work with more community organizations in order to offer lower cost options for court-ordered services.”
More than 2,000 workers and 100 companies were involved in the two-year construction project, which focused on using minority- and veteran-owned businesses for construction, maintenance, operations and supplies, as was outlined in the terms of agreement between the county and Edgemoor-Star America.
Overall, $117 million in contracts were awarded to Maryland-based firms, $22 million in contracts were awarded to Equal Business Opportunity firms and $19 million in contracts were awarded to Howard County-based firms, according to the county.
“Every day, members of our judiciary and our community will walk by this incredible piece of art, a reminder that these halls of justice are more than just brick and mortar, but it’s the action that we take within this incredible building that will better our community,” Ball said.
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The county will be hosting a virtual public meeting on Tuesday to discuss the redevelopment of the historic courthouse and its associated properties in Ellicott City and gather public feedback. After the meeting, there will be an online survey for residents to submit additional input.