SYCAMORE – The wait is going to be a little longer for the long-awaited completion of the DeKalb County Courthouse expansion.
The completion date has been pushed back a second time – to the end of August – after construction crews found asbestos in the flooring of the old high-volume courtroom. The $15 million, 42,000-square-foot expansion had been was slated to finish in June until storms pushed the completion date back to late July.
After the new high-volume courtroom opened June 4, construction crews discovered asbestos as they were removing the flooring. County Administrator Ray Bockman said some asbestos removal had been budgeted, but the discovery last month was unexpected.
The additional work cost $7,500 from the project's contingency fund. Only about $38,000 of the original $500,000 in the fund has not been committed or spent.
Ruth Anne Tobias, D-DeKalb, and chairwoman of the Ad Hoc Courthouse Committee, said the delay was disappointing, but important to ensure the work is done properly. She said after about a month of additional work on the old high-volume courtroom, construction crews have started to transform it into the new entrance and security point.
"People who are in the courthouse are maybe more anxious than even I am," Tobias said. "I don't deal with the frustration as much, but people are ready for it to be done."
The delay in the completion also has postponed the grand-opening celebration planned by Tobias and Circuit Clerk Maureen Josh. Tobias said there still are many details to be worked out, but the grand opening likely will be in late September or early October.
Ken Andersen, R-Sycamore, and member of the courthouse committee, said there have been other minor delays. He said witness stands had to be moved up about a foot in some courtrooms to provide a better view from the prosecution and defense tables, and some graffiti on the screening wall outside needed to be removed.
He said he was happy with progress, especially with the asphalt that will be laid on Exchange Street next week.
"When you have a project of this scope and magnitude, you're going to run into some issues," he said. "We'll make do and get through it."
The expansion includes a three-story addition to the courthouse and a basement level. The building will have a larger public defender’s office, the state’s attorney’s office, a sally port with improved security, a high-volume courtroom and an atrium.