Growing pains: Taj Mahal expansion will create security dilemma

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By AJ Vicens

Jefferson County is set to spend nearly $9 million to expand the county courts and administration building, but the expansion will create security challenges that have yet to be resolved.

The Jefferson County Courts and Administration Building in Golden must make room for three new judges mandated by the state. The judges were scheduled to arrive by July, but 1st Judicial District Chief Judge Brooke Jackson, Jeffco’s top judge, said the state has delayed adding the new judges until May 2010 to save money. The Taj Mahal already has 28 courtrooms for 30 judges, leaving two without a permanent home. And, the state says Jeffco may have as many as 42 judges by 2030.

Fentress Architects, the firm that designed the building and has been contracted to plan and oversee the expansion, presented plans to the county commissioners Feb. 24 that will add three new courtrooms over an 18-month period.

The three new judges will bring their own staffs and will require more room for added security, district attorneys and other employees. Kelly Dunn, the architect from Fentress overseeing the project, said the new configuration will mean the entire building must be secured. Now, only people using court services must be screened for weapons.

For the full version of this story, see the March 11 print edition of the Courier.