SANTA ROSA, Fla. (WKRG) — The new $42 million Santa Rosa County Courthouse is nearing the end of construction.

The site on Avalon Boulevard is three stories high and 115,000 square feet, with seven courtrooms, eight judges’ suites, two hearing rooms and two magistrate rooms.

Head of court security, Lt. Dominic Guadagnoli said from a court security standpoint, he thinks it’s phenomenal that they have a new place that is up-to-date and modern.

“Where we are now was never really meant to be where we have gone to,” said Guadagnoli. “For our guys and for the public, the safety levels are going to be ramped up to a more modern and safest level that we have now. Everything is state-of-the-art, for us to do what we need to do with the judiciary, the clerk of court and everybody.”

There are some safety features in the new courthouse including keeping prisoners away from the judiciary and the general public.

“There are areas now where prisoners are, in the Santa Rosa Courthouse, in the same hallway as the judiciaries and the general public. This is not a hidden or a secret thing,” said Guadagnoli. “Now, the judiciary will be in a secure area. Prisoners will also be in a secure area, so there will never be contact between the prisoners and the public, other than the courtroom, which is a controlled environment. They will never have to be in the same hallway, same room or anything like that.”

In the new building, it will host the court administration, the clerk of court, the state attorney will have an office space, the public defender will have an office space, court security has a space, a law library and witness conferencing rooms.

Guadagnoli said the new courthouse is long overdue.

“Anyone who’s ever been to the Santa Rosa County Courthouse, anytime in the last couple of years, will know that that was not a building meant for that particular purpose and the growth of the county, both populous and in building and edifices,” said Guadagnoli. “It just shows you that we needed to move forward. This is a long time coming and a long-time planning. People should feel better about the fact that they have a safer environment when they come into court, something that is more amenable. Just the fact that it is climate controlled, larger public bathrooms, way more ADA compliant things, stuff that they just could not do, and they did the best they could, in the old building. Now, everything is up to these codes, and we can help everybody feel comfortable in this building and feel safe.”

There is not a set date for the courthouse to open, but Guadagnoli said it could be this year.

“There are a few things that we are waiting on that are key elements to get the whole building up and running and that has been delayed,” said Guadagnoli. “We are not far out, but there are a couple elements that we are waiting on.”

Photos from inside of the new courthouse will be posted on the WKRG News 5 website tomorrow morning.   

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