The Montgomery County Board of County Commissioners celebrated the new Western Division Municipal Court opening in Trotwood Friday. The $7.8 million community investment will improve court access for nearby residents and provide job training and social services programs.
The decision to move the court from New Lebanon to Trotwood stemmed from a 2017 National Center for State Courts recommendation due to the volume of civil and criminal dockets and limited public transportation to New Lebanon.
"While courts are available to all, access to them is difficult for some," Commission President Debbie Lieberman said.
The 18,000-square-foot facility will serve Brookville and Trotwood, the villages of Farmersville, New Lebanon, Phillipsburg and Verona, as well as the townships of Clay, Jackson, Jefferson and Perry.
Moving the court to Trotwood will also decrease travel times for western law enforcement officers scheduled for court appearances.
"This new location increases accessibility to court proceedings and programs that improve the lives of our residents," Lieberman said. "This building is so much more than a court, and we believe it will set the standards for all future courthouses."
Residents can enroll in social services programs onsite and access the necessary tools to find a job or develop skills.
"The city of Trotwood has been working to create living-wage jobs and bring in new businesses," Commissioner Judy Dodge said. "Strengthening the workforce here is another way to support that initiative and our residents."
The new facility is equipped with a high-quality digital recording system, premier presentation technology, microphones, speakers and cameras.
The pandemic made it evident that courts must be able to conduct business electronically and virtually. Integrating this technology will make virtual arraignments, bail hearings and preliminary hearings less time-consuming, cheaper, safer and more convenient.
"This court was designed for our residents to make processes like court proceedings, applying for food and childcare assistance and job searching more manageable and accessible, as it should be,” Commissioner Carolyn Rice said.
The Western Division Municipal Court opens as several construction projects add to the advancement and growth of Trotwood. The new Goodwill Easter Seals' West Campus Service Center opened in February. The Funk Music Hall of Fame & Exhibition Center is moving into the former Sears building at the old Salem Mall, and the Trotwood Senior Lofts are under construction.
"Montgomery County is dedicated to the development of the city of Trotwood," County Administrator Michael Colbert said. "The new court and its offerings are evidence of that. The resources offered here are vital to the progress of our residents, businesses and the entire community."
Montgomery County Clerk of Courts Mike Foley said the new facility increases safety and accessibility for citizens who have disabilities. The building meets all Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and welcomes all needing to visit.
"The County has been working to develop an updated ADA Transition Plan, and we are excited to see those ideas implemented into the new court," Foley said. "All our residents deserve the opportunity to utilize the resources and programs here and the assurance that they're granted full access to them."
Construction on the Western Division Municipal Court began in August of 2021. The County's Facilities Management and Purchasing teams collaborated with Brumbaugh Construction, LWC Incorporated and the Trotwood Community Improvement Corporation to complete the new building.
The Western Division Municipal Court is located at 875 E. Main Street in Trotwood. The facility will officially open to the public on May 1, 2023.