JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The new Duval County Courthouse has failed yet another test Sunday in efforts to open up the $350 million facility. This marks the second failed test this weekend, according to city spokesperson, Alezhia Botson.
The new courthouse was set to open last Tuesday, but numerous failed tests on the fire suppression system have delayed the opening for over a week.
Clerk of Courts Jim Fuller is getting used to the let down. He and his staff have been forced to work from alternative locations since the opening of the new courthouse was pushed back. Folks at City Hall closed the old courthouse before they knew if the new one was safe enough for the public.
“I'm a little frustrated that we made the move, we can't use the new courthouse,” said Fuller.
Action News learned a smoke control system is the problem inside the 800,000 square-foot building, specifically inside the atrium and the west wing of the third floor.
Judges, attorneys and their staffs spent weeks preparing for the big move and now city leaders want business moved back to Bay St. while we wait for turner construction to fix the fire-safety issues. State Attorney Angela Corey told Action News that working out of the old building is not possible.
"We don't see how it is because the reports we got the day they moved all the furniture out is that the rats are all over the building and besides now, that building is not to code," said Corey.
But City Council President Stephen Joost disagrees. "We have another building that was safe to occupy for 50 years and it's still standing there, why wouldn't we use it," asked Joost.
Joost agrees that the failed fire inspections are frustrating. He expects city leaders to launch an investigation into the mess but says that right now, the priority is getting the doors to Duval's new courthouse open. "What we got to do is take our energy and concentrate on getting the courthouse open and solving the problem," said Joost.
Karen Bowling, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer, plans to meet with court officials Monday at 10a.m. to push the city's proposal of reopening the old courthouse.
Jury trials have been canceled for this week. No decision has been made after that.