The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Union County Improvement Authority hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new Union County Courthouse Cherry Street Annex. Located at 2 Cherry Street in Elizabeth, the new courthouse provides six state-of-the-art courtrooms and facilities that will serve families throughout Union County. The event brought together county officials, judges and legal professionals from across Union County.
“As a Judiciary, we are proud of this courthouse for many reasons,” said the Honorable Karen M. Cassidy, Assignment Judge for the Union County Vicinage (Union County Court). “This is the first time that litigants are able to come to a facility that will address their needs in one location.”
“The new Courthouse is a dignified, modern and functional facility for the usage of families, the judiciary, our employees, and the community as a whole,” said Union County Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “We are pleased to support the construction of a permanent facility that is dedicated to helping those in need.”
Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Union, Somerset and Middlesex), who serves as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated: “I am pleased to celebrate the official opening of the new courthouse that will serve Union County families. The expansion of our court facilities was critical to ensuring that our judiciary is able to meet the needs of residents, who expect that our courthouses are equipped to operate in an effective and efficient manner. I’m confident this twenty-first century courthouse will adequately serve our region well into the future.”
Assemblyman Jerry Green of Plainfield (D-22), Speaker Pro Tempore of the NJ Assembly, said: “The new Courthouse is an outstanding facility that will provide the proper setting to improve the lives of the families and children who need help and seek justice.”
Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, whose community is hosting the facility, added: “”The new Union County Annex building not only contributes to the revitalization of Elizabeth’s downtown area, but also provides additional services for our City and County residents. Elizabeth is proud to be the County seat and looks forward to having more resources to support families in need as well as help those seeking assistance and legal guidance.”
Union County Acting Prosecutor Grace H. Park said: “The Courthouse will also house the newly established Union County Family Justice Center (FJC), which is expected to open in late summer 2017. The FJC will provide crime victims with legal assistance, crisis counseling, court advocacy, logistical support, and housing aid. We believe this will positively transform the way in which domestic violence receive services in Union County.”
UCIA Executive Director Daniel P. Sullivan served as Master of Ceremonies for the event, which began with the presentation of colors, conducted by the Office of the Union County Sheriff Honor Guard. The program included a performance by the Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy Choir from Elizabeth. The program’s honored guest and keynote speaker was New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner.
The new facility serves as an extension of the current courthouse. It will provide 78,071 square feet of new space.
The building was designed in accordance with NJ Courthouse Facility Guidelines and embraces the latest in technology and security features to serve judges, staff, lawyers and litigants. The Courthouse includes four interconnected spatial and circulation systems, each separate and secure, including:
- Six state-of-the-art Courtrooms and support facilities
- Judges’ Chambers and Support Staff offices
- Prisoner Intake, Holding and Attorney/Client Conference spaces
- Sheriff’s Department security control facilities
The public enters the Courthouse through an elevated courtyard and secured lobby, providing direct access to court-related administrative functions and stair/elevators connections to courtroom waiting areas on the floors above. Other public spaces include a Cafeteria, Children’s Waiting Room, Attorney Lounge, Conference, Hearing and Mediation Rooms and several Waiting Areas. The building is fully accessible to the handicapped and provides surface parking including a separate and secured parking lot for judges. The project was also designed to receive USGBC LEED® Certification.
“The UCIA is proud to play an important role in the construction of our newest courthouse in Union County, and we greatly appreciate the support given to this project by the Board of Chosen Freeholders,” says UCIA Chairman, Anthony Scutari. “It is a state-of-the-art facility that will meet the needs of Union County families and our Courts for many, many years to come,” adds Mr. Scutari.
The aims and purpose of the Union County Improvement Authority are those set forth generally in County Improvement Authorities Law, N.J.S.A. 40:37A-44 et seq., and particularly in N.J.S.A. 40:37A-54, which provides the Authority with the statutory power and resources to assist the State of New Jersey, the County of Union, and the municipalities within the County to create, construct and operate a variety of facilities and services for the public benefit.