Madison County Service Center to alleviate courthouse congestion

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. -- There are many complaints about the Madison County Courthouse. It is overcrowded, with limited parking and not enough space for new judges. A new service center is in the works to alleviate some of those problems and it could help the court system move faster

The complaints have been heard.

"It's hard to come do your business here at the Madison County Courthouse," said Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong.  "30, 35 parking spaces around the courthouse and if you go further that you've got to get one of the parking one of the parking decks. So we're trying to meet the needs of the people."

The new 60,000 square foot service center will be built on the 7.7-acre lot on the corner of Memorial Parkway and Oakwood Avenue. An assessment of the site conditions and construction recommendations is complete. Now, they will move forward with purchasing it on Saturday.

"We had the appraisal completed. The price that we're purchasing it for is less than the appraised value of it is," Strong said.

The property was bought for $3.1 million dollars. The service center will house the Madison County tax assessor, tax collector, license director, probate judge, sales tax, and voter registrars office.

"I feel like the construction will probably take about 18 months, I think that we ill probably spend six to eight months designing," Strong said.

Strong said Madison County judges have the highest caseload in the state. He said the service center will give more room in the courthouse for new judges.

"We're needing additional judges, but right now we've got to figure out how to construct those new courtrooms," Strong said. "When you've got about 900 in the Madison County metro jail, we want to do everything we can to protect their sixth amendment to the constitution, and that's the right to a speedy trial."

He said the land the new center will be built on has been vacant for more than 20 years. He said the service center will make things more convenient for the Madison County community. There is no set timeline on the service center, but the project is entering the design phase. Strong estimated the service center could be completed in about two years.