On July 19, the Delaware County Board of Commissioners and other elected county officials gathered for a discussion that resulted in a decision to change the addresses of both the Rutherford B. Hayes Administrative Building and the new Delaware County Courthouse for safety reasons, convenience, and access to the buildings.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, the address of the Delaware County Courthouse will change from 110 N. Sandusky St. to 117 N. Union St., and the Rutherford B. Hayes Administrative Building’s address will be changed from 140 N. Sandusky St. to 145 N. Union St.
In a press release from the county commissioners’ office, Jane Hawes, director of communications for the board of commissioners, gives a brief summary of the reason for the address change.
“The new addresses reflect the fact that the easiest way to access either building is from entrances facing North Union Street,” she states. “Parking lots also are situated closest to North Union Street. Changing the addresses will make it easier for online mapping tools to help drivers and pedestrians find the buildings.
“Because of the east-facing hillside into which the structures were built, parking lots could only be built along North Union Street, and the main entrances were designed to face the east as well,” Hawes adds.
The Hayes Building opened in 2002, and the new Delaware County Courthouse opened in 2017.
Commissioner Gary Merrell initiated the July meeting over concerns of the brick alley that travels between the Hayes Building and the courthouse.
Clerk of Courts Natalie Fravel told elected officials during the July meeting that the alley was unsafe for people at times as cars traveled down it. She said the concern is for the people going to court in one of the two buildings.
“With our offices on that side, we see the traffic daily,” she told them. “It’s a concern.”
Fravel added that people will Google the address, park on North Sandusky Street, and then walk down the “paver patio, brick area,” which she sees as more of a walkway than something that should be open to traffic.
“Sometimes, they are coming here for the first time,” Fravel said. “It’s unsafe.”
Probate/Juvenile Court Judge David Hejmanowski recalled a time when he walked from the Hayes Building across the alley and nearly got ran over by a car.
Delaware County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jeff Balzer entered into the discussion at that point, speaking on the behalf of Sheriff Russell Martin. He said the two concerns for the sheriff’s office are for the “pedestrians and having vehicles that close to the building.”
“Federal government guideline suggests a 50-foot setback from courthouses and other critical structures,” he said. “That seldom happens just because where the buildings are located, but we do the best we can.”
Balzer then encroached the topic of vehicles with explosives. He said something like that could cause damage to the sides of both buildings and the people inside of them.
Balzer said he had spoken with Delaware City Fire Chief John Donahue about putting preventive measures in place between the two buildings.
“He talked about curbing, possibly extending the curbing across it because the emergency vehicles can go over (the curb),” Balzer said. “Maybe some signage to indicate no vehicle traffic.”
However, Balzer added it is part of the emergency plan to have easy access to the alley between the buildings.
At that point in the discussion, Commissioner Jeff Benton suggested changing the addresses of the buildings to Union Street addresses since that is where the parking and the main entrances are located.
Hejmanowski said he was in favor of the idea to close the alley and change the addresses of the buildings.
“If we were to change the address of the Hayes Building, I would suggest at the earliest, perhaps a Jan. 1, 2019 date to give us time to get things ordered, to burn through letterhead and envelopes,” he said. “If we don’t get through them, we are going to keep using them. We can sticker over them. I’m not going to throw things out — thousands and thousands of envelopes.”
Domestic Relations Court Judge Randall Fuller said he didn’t have much to add to what had already been said other than he agreed with everything.
“My concern is the timing. We don’t have near the postage the clerks have, but we would need sufficient time to order and get new stock in,” he said. “Initially, my concern is about the public having access. If we change the address, that certainly resolves my concern with it.”
“I would ask that we begin the process of working out the logistics with facilities and the curbing,” Merrell told those in attendance during the July gathering. “Issue number two becomes about the address.”
Deputy Administrator Dawn Huston was asked by the commissioners to look into changing the addresses of the buildings. She said it was as simple as sending the change of address to the city, and it would take care of everything for the county.
“It would take a 30-day period for everything to update, and the post office would have the change of address on file for two years. So, it’s a pretty simple process,” she said.
According to the press release, the City of Delaware, earlier this summer, authorized the buildings to change addresses.
By the end of the July meeting, the gathering of elected officials agreed to close the alley to vehicle traffic and change the addresses of the Hayes Building and the new Delaware County Courthouse, effective Jan. 1.
“I think it will be well received,” Merrell said in July.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.