WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A proposal to convert the former Hill Magnet Middle School into a juvenile courthouse would have operating costs of an estimated $764,000 in upfront (non-recurring) expenses and an annual operating fee of $917,800, according to the county manager's office.
Those costs would be in addition to the estimated $6.5 million it would cost for actual construction of the building on Tryon Street.
Forsyth County clerk of court Susan Frye, who spearheaded the project, said these expenses are worth the reward--decreasing overcrowding in the current Forsyth County Hall of Justice and being proactive about pending legislation called the Young Offenders Rehabilitation Act. That measure would raise the legal age limit, from 16 to 18, at which juveniles can be tried as adults. The measure could increase the number of people in the juvenile court system.
Frye is scheduled to present her proposal to the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners on Oct. 24. She would need approval from a majority of the seven commissioners before the proposal would move forward. The county manager's office explained the project would need to get on the county's Capital Improvement Plan in order to receive county funding.
District court judge Denise Hartsfield and Winston-Salem city councilman James Taylor, Jr. told WFMY News 2 Wednesday that they believe building a new juvenile justice center in the school is a worthwhile project. Taylor, a former juvenile court counselor, said not only will juveniles be benefiting by having more space in the facility, but they also eventually will have access to more juvenile services that the proposal suggests.
Hartsfield, who operates a juvenile drug court in Forsyth County, said she, too, recognizes the need for a juvenile courthouse. She cited the overcrowded current facilities.
Taylor said he intends to increase education about the benefits of the proposal to constituents in his ward. He said the general consensus is that people do not want the building to sit vacant, but some might be concerned about having a courthouse within the residential area. Taylor said if the proposal is approved by the board, public hearings about the project will commence.
WFMY News 2