A number of enhancements designed to improve security, comfort and efficiency for all who visit and work at Northampton County District Court 03-2-04 in Lower Saucon Township are now under way.
Magisterial District Judge Alan Mege confirmed Tuesday that the primary reason for the improvements is to “increase safety and security as well as access and function.”
He said the following renovations to the Walter Street building, which is located just off Rt. 378, are expected to be completed by April, weather permitting:
- A conference room is being added. The conference room will also double as a holding cell if needed.
- An ADA compliant public restroom is being added. The courthouse currently lacks a public restroom.
- The court’s file storage area will be modified and expanded in order to be better organized.
- A raised bench–which is standard in most courts–is being installed in the courtroom.
- A secure holding cell with a conference room and a restroom will be added for the egress and holding of defendants in custody. This will also prevents victims from having to see and potentially be intimidated by a defendant, Mege said.
- Bollards will be installed outside the building to help prevent a vehicle from hitting it.
- Additional security cameras are being installed.
- Designated parking for law enforcement officers and constables with individuals in custody as well as court staff is being created.
- The building will be repainted outside and inside, and new carpeting will be installed.
- Lightly mirror-tinted windows will be installed to help improve privacy and protection for the public and court staff.
Some other security-related renovations that are taking place won’t be disclosed to the public, for obvious reasons, Mege said.
Mege explained that the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) issued a new version of their Facility Guidelines in April 2016.
“While this doesn’t give us full compliance with state recommendations, we (will) no longer have a failing grade,” he said.
“Due to budget constraints, no district court in the county will be at 100 percent (compliance) but the goal was to get us substantially in compliance and make a safer and more accessible court for everyone,” he added.
The court is located at 1404 Walter Street, Bethlehem, Pa., and handles Hellertown and Lower Saucon Township criminal and other cases.