City-county building vote likely

    An 11-member committee that met monthly for a year or so to discuss problems in the aging building that houses Adams Superior Court and the probation department now has a new task: educating the public about the importance of a city-county government building in downtown Decatur so a referendum will pass in the November, 2012, election.
    At a meeting on Tuesday attended by more than 20 city and county leaders, a consensus was achieved as everyone agreed that a referendum is the way to go, giving voters and taxpayers the opportunity to decide what to do.
    However, even if a referendum is approved, it could take about three years to build the structure, according to Dave Sholl, an architect at the Schenkel/Shultz firm in Fort Wayne who drew up preliminary plans for such a building.
    The proposed building, projected to be on Madison St. across from the courthouse, would contain the offices in Decatur City Hall, a new city police headquarters, superior court, the probation department, the county public defender's office, and the Community Corrections office. Security would be bolstered by having the police station there.
    Also proposed is a garden-like area created by closing part of Madison St., with a covered walkway connecting the new structure and the courthouse.
    "We've got to sell it" to the people, declared Commissioner Kim Fruechte, who called the idea for a referendum "a no-brainer."
    "If we keep hammering at the public, it'll go," added Commissioner Doug Bauman.