OGDEN -- Judges and city officials broke ground on the site of a new juvenile courthouse Monday, following a six-year process to replace the current, aging building.
Allen Lunceford, facility director of the Juvenile Courthouse, said the new building, at 20th Street and Wall Avenue, will provide much-needed space for the judges and the nearly 50-member staff.
The current facility at 444 26th St. has been in use since the mid-1980s and provides three courtrooms. However, the growth of cases at the courthouse has prompted the need for a new facility, Lunceford said.
The new, 85,000-square-foot building will provide six courtrooms with the potential to add more. The five-story courthouse will also provide sufficient office space for the judges, their staff, juvenile parole workers and security staff.
One of the juvenile justices, Jeffrey J. Noland, had kept his courtroom at the 2nd District Courthouse in Ogden, resulting in confusion for staff and people reporting to the court. Noland will move into the new building upon its completion.
Presiding Judge Janice Frost said many staff members had to rework utility closets into offices at the old location.
Along with space, the new building will provide many state-of-the-art security systems and zones of separation between the public and in-custody prisoners.
After six years of asking the Utah Legislature for funding, the $34 million project was approved in the 2013 legislative session.
"The juvenile court is a place where there is hope -- hope for kids who have made some mistakes," Frost said. "It's a place where change is possible, a place to make a difference."
Utah Chief Justice Matthew Durrant remarked that juvenile court is one of the most important areas of criminal justice.
"The juvenile judges are right at that junction in a young person's life where their life can go either way," he said.
Lunceford said the project should be completed in 18 months. The courthouse should have a lifespan of at least 30 years.
The old courthouse will still house guardian ad litem and parole staff members.
Contact reporter Andreas Rivera at 801-625-4227 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SE_Andreas.