County Building in Marshall South Courtyard
Calhoun County built the 125 bed Marshall Jail in 1950. County inmates were relocated to the new 600 bed jail facility in Battle Creek as part of the criminal justice consolidation effort in 1994. The old jail was unoccupied for the next five years as the County used the facility for records storage and staging of surplus equipment. After a minor remodeling of the old jail’s first floor, the Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Division was moved from Battle Creek back to Marshall to capitalize on the logistical advantages and quicker response time enabled by the centrally located facility. The Law enforcement Division occupied that building for over 15 years before a weather event severely damaged the Jail roof rendering the building uninhabitable and too expensive to repair. Officers were relocated across the County until construction of the Marshall Regional Law Enforcement Center was completed in 2015, providing the Law Enforcement Division with new state of the art facilities which they currently share with the Michigan State Police and City of Marshall Police Department.
In September of 2015, the County Board of Commissioners approved a contract to demolish the old Jail and reclaim the vacant space for the purpose of providing improved public access to the County Building in Marshall. The County Building in Marshall is an important local landmark located just one block south of the downtown Marshall historic district. The three story office building has been carefully restored to preserve the original architectural design from the 1950’s construction. The Jail demolition presents the County with an opportunity to update and beautify the courtyard and grounds which surround the County Building. Short term plans include; creation of a new parking surface, designing a landscape plan for the area left barren from the demolition, and improving the outdated landscape on the south side courtyard adjacent to the Jail demo area. The plan will better accommodate citizens with mobility issues and create more intuitive navigation for the general public from the new parking surface to the designated entrance in the south courtyard. The greenspace will be a buffer for the new hard asphalt parking area and is intended to mask the pathways to two secure employee only entrances accessible from the same south courtyard. Improving public access and enhancing security are both important considerations in determining the final landscape design.
While the building and grounds have always been maintained to the best of the facility staff’s ability, there is evidence that the landscape and plantings surrounding the County Building are in need of an update. The long range plan will include landscaping designed to improve the remaining sides of the County Building property. Proposed changes in public accessibility for the north façade of the County Building will require a landscape plan which de-accentuates what used to be the building’s main entrance but will now be restricted access only. Toward this end, the County is currently seeking to retain the services of a qualified landscape architect to create a landscape design for the County Building in Marshall in order to better serve the public, improve security and maintain the historical value of this important County asset. The County expects to complete the bid process and receive Board approval for the selection of an architectural firm in March. The landscape plan design for the south courtyard should be finalized in the spring with landscape work and parking surface completed by contractors in the fall of 2017. The County will consider the scope of work and funding for the secondary landscape phases of the plan, including the update of the north County Building entrance for 2018.
CLICK HERE To view the video of the County Building South Courtyard.