Kohl, Feingold Urge Purchase Of Jefferson Court Building To Create A Permanent Federal Court House In Green Bay
Purchase would save money and establish a permanent Green Bay federal Court House
Today, Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold sent the following letter to Martha Johnson and Robert Peck of the General Services Administration urging the purchase of the Jefferson Court Building in Green Bay for use by the Green Bay Division of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin and the United States Marshal Service.
Kohl and Feingold wrote, "Purchasing the Jefferson Court building will save the federal government many years of rent, eliminate the cost of constructing a new courthouse, and ensure that the money the federal government has already invested in this building is not wasted."
Please find the text of the letter below.
July 14, 2010
Martha N. Johnson
General Services Administration
1800 F Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20006
Dear Ms. Johnson,
We write to urge the Government Services Administration (GSA) to consider purchasing the Jefferson Court building in Green Bay, Wisconsin, for use by the Green Bay Division of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin and the United States Marshal Service. We appreciate the commitment you made upon your confirmation to put a priority on developing policies that will create a more cost effective and efficient government. That is why we thought it critical to share with you estimates which indicate that purchasing the Jefferson Court building will reduce long-term costs for the federal government.
For more than twenty years, many in the legal, business, and law enforcement communities in northeast Wisconsin worked to create a federal court to serve that part of the state. In 2000, we sponsored legislation that added a new judge to serve Green Bay and in 2002, Judge Griesbach was appointed to the bench. Unfortunately, eight years later, Green Bay still does not have its own permanent federal courthouse. Currently, Judge Griesbach is renting space in the Jefferson Court building along with the Clerk of Court and the United States Marshal Service. Green Bay is among the proposed court projects under review by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), but it will likely be several years before a new courthouse can be constructed. And, as you know, the costs of building a new court are significant.
As a more cost effective and timely alternative to building a new courthouse, Judge Griesbach and Green Bay officials have recommended to us that the GSA purchase the Jefferson Court Building, as well as the parking lot and small office building to the rear, for a fraction of the cost of new construction and years of paying rent. According to property tax records, the building has a fair market value of $2,123,600, and officials believe that the owner is willing to sell it at this price. The parking lot and small office building are listed at $193,000 and $119,000, respectively. By purchasing the building, the federal government would save close to $300,000 per year in rent for space in the Jefferson Court building and it would not lose the $1 million already invested in improvements to the building. If the District Court Judge leaves the building, the federal government would lose the value of these improvements and, under the terms of the lease, would be required to restore the building to its original condition.
Additionally, Judge Griesbach has expressed concerns about the inadequacy of the courthouse facility -- including size, lack of grand jury facilities, the need for greater security and secure prisoner transport, to name a few. A local firm has estimated that the relatively modest addition to fully meet the needs of the court would cost $9.4 million. Therefore, following a purchase, the renovation of the Jefferson Court Building would be substantially less costly than comparable courthouse construction projects which have cost more than $50 million.
We recognize that the GSA receives many requests and must carefully plan how to address needs across the country. However, it appears that purchasing the Jefferson Court building will save the federal government many years of rent, eliminate the cost of constructing a new courthouse, and ensure that the money the federal government has already invested in this building is not wasted.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
United States Senator
United States Senator
cc: Robert A. Peck, Commissioner of Public Buildings Service