Justice Center Debate

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The question debated Thursday morning was whether a proposed Marietta justice center was worth the $3.2 million dollar cost.

Municipal court Judge Milt Nuzum says it is worth it only because of the much-needed additional space it would provide. One reason the judge cited was security. He said that's already been an issue with the current municipal court located in the Marietta City Building at 301 Putnam Street.

"While I think we have a very safe community in Marietta, you never know when something could erupt and someone could be injured," Judge Nuzum said after his presentation. "We know how to protect people, so if we know how to do it, it would be irresponsible for us not to do what is required."

But businessman John Lehman took issue with the judge's estimates of how much it would cost to keep up the new structure.

"To think this building can be operated for $30,000 is ridiculous," Lehman said. "The actual cost will be several times what's been publicly been stated again and again. Those numbers aren't valid."

Lehman also questions whether the proposal to pay for its construction through court costs will be enough the cover the three-million dollar construction price tag.

Judge Nuzum says the plan calls for the construction and upkeep costs to be paid by court fees required of offenders. He adds the intent is to build a courts center for the future as well as the present.

"We're also talking about a facility that should serve this community 50 to 60 years into the future," the judge said. "If you look at it from that perspective, it's a modest investment."

Lehman, who also was an outspoken opponent of a new Marietta City Building three years ago, suggested the vacant armory building as an alternative site for the courts, but Marietta Mayor Michael Mullen said the armory structure is envisioned as a recreational site.

The Marietta Chamber of Commerce sponsored the early morning forum.