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Published: Wednesday, 6/13/2007

Seneca official proposes scaled-down courthouse

TIFFIN - Seneca County Commissioner Ben Nutter has proposed building a scaled-down courthouse and has challenged his two fellow commissioners to come up with better ideas if they don't like his.

Mr. Nutter recommended last week that the county raze its 1884 courthouse and build a 19,000-square-foot building for the two Common Pleas Courts and the clerk of courts office at a cost of about $5.6 million.

The suggestion came on the heels of a consultants' study that estimated commissioners could renovate the old courthouse for about $9 million; build a 32,000-square-foot courthouse for $9.5 million; incorporate architectural features from the old courthouse into a new one for $10.5 million, or gut the inside of the old courthouse and rebuild the interior for $11.3 million.

Mr. Nutter said he was fearful that reusing the old courthouse would involve too many hidden costs and would lead to high maintenance expenses for the county.

"Commissioner [Michael] Bridinger said he wants to renovate," Mr. Nutter said yesterday.

"I challenged him to come up with a financial plan. If you want to present that renovation option, I want to know how we're going to pay for it."

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