The refurbishment or new construction of a courthouse is a costly but necessary venture, one that tax-payers would likely need to foot if the bonds for a new courthouse are approved in the November 4, 2014 ballot.
According to 11 of the 13 commissioners and those who use the courthouse, the need is irrefutable. Nearly 90 years old, the Dade County courthouse has been long been insufficient to handle all the cases on the docket. While the necessity is not in question – at least by those in the know – the means to pay for it certainly is. In fact, many, if not all the details are still up in the air, which makes moving forward more difficult.
Joseph Serota, who chaired the effort to restore the lobby and the historic Courtroom 6-1 more than six years ago, knows how difficult it is to raise money for a public building. Joe was honored with the Silverman Award from HistoryMiami for his efforts in restoring the lobby and the ceremonial courtroom. But raising money through private sector donations would be a daunting task and take too long, says Joe about private donors as a solution to the current courthouse dilemma. It took more than six years to generate the funding to make the restorations possible back in 2008. Today, the needs are even greater, with structural problems and deterioration impacting the civil courthouse and dramatic overcrowding affecting the criminal courthouse. And of course, the costs are also greater.
The courthouse entered the Miami-Dade landscape in 1928. If it’s going to make it to its centennial, it needs major work. The wheels are in motion to make it happen – but turning very slowly.