I was dismayed to learn that Lake Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura is moving the IV-D court from the Justice D. Rucker Courthouse in Gary to Crown Point on Monday.
I am especially concerned since Judge Bonaventura requested that the Lake County commissioners build a new IV-D court on the fourth floor of the Gary courthouse in 2009 at a cost of more than $18,000. That was just three years ago. This is, in my opinion, an example of an absolute waste of taxpayer dollars.
It also makes the IV-D court extremely inefficient by moving the court 20 miles away from thousands of low-income residents in Hammond, East Chicago and Gary that utilize the court. There is no regional bus transportation system in Lake County.
I hope the Lake Superior Court judges will seriously consider moving, in the near future, another judge to that brand new courtroom in Gary formerly occupied by Judge Bonaventura. Such a move would be consistent with the overall plan requested by the Lake Superior Court and completed by the National Center for State Courts as part of the Maximus report for the Good Government Initiative.
Over the past five years, the county has expended about $3 million in renovation work at the Justice Robert D. Rucker Courthouse in Gary. We replaced the roof, installed new elevators, installed new windows, installed a new handicap ramp, tuckpointed and water-blasted the limestone exterior, renovated several courtrooms, etc., to accommodate the judges and magistrates who occupy the building.
The Justice Robert D. Rucker Courthouse in Gary is a busy courthouse providing county services to thousands of citizens in northern Lake County that are not able to get to Crown Point because of Lake County does not have a regional bus system.
The citizens in north Lake County have access to the prosecutor, treasurer, county clerk, Lake Superior Courts and sheriff in Gary. Security is provided for the facility by the Lake County sheriff.