HOULTON, Maine — Aroostook County Administrator Doug Beaulieu acknowledged earlier this week that even he keeps referring to the former Houlton District Court building as “the District Court” facility.
But now that a $2.5 million consolidation project was completed this spring, the real Houlton District Court is located across the street in the Aroostook County Superior Court building.
Now the county has another plan for the former courthouse, starting with a new name.
“Everyone still calls it the District Court building, even me,” Beaulieu said. “But we have some changes in mind and we have started thinking about a new name.”
In April, the consolidation project put the offices of Houlton District Court and the Superior Court under one roof. The Superior Court building has undergone extensive renovation. A second courtroom was created along with two new clerk’s offices. The older courtroom now is brighter and more airy with a new rug and a dropped ceiling. The facility has a more modern jury deliberation room and a law library, a more secure judge’s chamber, two elevators and a new heating and airflow system.
Features in the building are now compliant with standards set forth by the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.
When Aroostook County commissioners were planning the consolidation project, they considered selling the District Court building. But the renovation project prompted officials to take another look at the space needs of its departments.
In the past, the entire Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department was not located in one area. Some staff offices were located on the second floor of the Superior Court building, an office on the first floor housed the law enforcement division, and the corrections division was in yet another part of the building.
But county officials now have approved a plan to unite all three divisions in the former District Court building.
“We have decided to keep the building for our use,” Beaulieu said. “We have also decided to move the Aroostook County sheriff’s dispatch center to the building. Right now, it is located at the Aroostook County Jail, so this will really unite that entire department.”
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service, which rents space on the second floor of the former District Court building, will continue to rent space in another part of the facility.
Beaulieu said a naming committee would be organized to come up with a new moniker for the former District Court building.
“I think a new name will make it a lot less confusing,” said Beaulieu.
The committee is expected to convene in the fall.