You might have recently heard or read about Rutherford County’s Probation Offices relocating to the old judicial building (20 North) on the Public Square late spring/early summer. It is my hope that this narrative will serve to shed some light on the project and hopefully address concerns as well.
The renovation and relocation plan is nothing new, though it’s received much attention with the certificate of occupancy quickly approaching. The decision was made back in 2018 to renovate the building and move county offices, including the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and Probation client and administrative services.
This topic was discussed in several public meetings over the last couple of years including Property Management and County Commission meetings.
All agendas and meeting minutes are available through SharePoint at rutherfordcountytn.gov.
Most of the concerns my office has received from downtown businesses include parking and safety.
I acknowledge that years ago when probation and the judicial center itself were downtown, there were issues with parking or with people standing around the building. We are taking measures to reduce those issues and are confident things will look much different.
Plans for parking: Both clients and employees will be asked to park in either the Judicial Center or City Hall parking garages. Clients will enter the building from the West College Street entrance and will receive information prior to reporting about where they are to park. Client numbers fluctuate based on cases and conditions, and clients have different reporting schedules if required to come in person. Not everyone reports at once.
Access and safety: Probation’s client services will be located on the first floor with access limited to the first floor only. Employees will enter through a keycard secured front door and keycard secured interior doors. Existing safety measures and procedures at the current facility will continue at 20 North. This includes but is not limited to armed security officers, metal detectors/screening areas, and cameras.
Cost savings: The county has been paying $8,500 in monthly rent for probation’s current space, only a few blocks away from its new location. With Rutherford County already owning the building at 20 North, this is a cost-effective way to move the offices to a rent-free space, with an annual savings of at least $102,000.
Future plans: With the OIT offices moving out of the historic courthouse, the county will continue moving forward with converting a portion of the building into a “working museum” to include artifacts native to and historical timelines from our county. With the collaboration of Rutherford County Archives and its director, John Lodl, Dr. Carroll Van West from Middle Tennessee State University, the Tennessee State Museum and other partners, I know the museum will be an asset to our community. This is exciting news for our local and out-of-town visitors.
The downtown area will continue to be a highlight of our county, welcoming visitors who come to experience our rich history, enjoy our fine dining, our unique shops, businesses, and entertainment venues.
The renovation of the County Courthouse has made a tremendous transformation in the downtown area, and I’m certain 20 North will do the same.
Bill Ketron currently serves as Rutherford County mayor and was elected in August 2018.