Pike County Commissioners are set to go before Milford Borough Council to request six feet of borough right-of-way to accommodate a redesigned garage entry for transporting prisoners to and from the newly enlarged courthouse.

MILFORD - Pike County Commissioners are set to go before Milford Borough Council to request six feet of borough right-of-way to accommodate a redesigned garage entry for transporting prisoners to and from the newly enlarged courthouse.

At present, prisoners are marched into a side door on the West High Street side of the 1874 courthouse. As seen from the street, this section of the old courthouse is indented several feet from the front section of the courthouse, which is closer to the sidewalk.

To the right of the back of the courthouse, as seen from the street, is Gooseberry Alley. The annex was built along a portion of Gooseberry Alley.

The annex, which is set to be occupied in coming months, included in its original, approved design, a fabric fence with a masonry foundation, where the prisoner transport van from the Pike County Correctional Facility could drop off or pick up prisoners who need to attend court.

The plan was for the van to pull off West High Street onto Gooseberry Lane and make a hard left, to let off prisoners behind the high fabric fence. Where the van enters is referred to as a sally port.

Commissioner Chairman Matthew Osterberg stated that this was the request of the former sheriff, Philip Beuki, who retired at the end of 2017. In January, the new sheriff, Kerry Welsh, asked the commissioners to reconsider the design of the sally port.

Between then and now, the commissioners were in consultation with the county engineer, to come up with a new plan.

The new design will be a small brick addition with a garage door and roof, extending from the side of the 1874 courthouse out towards West High Street. Vans will be able to enter directly from West High Street to allow prisoners to be safely escorted from within the sally port into the courthouse.

The new sally port extends out from the old courthouse towards the street another six feet, into the borough’s 20-foot right-of-way.

Osterberg explained that the new design allows greater security, and better accommodates the long transport van, which is about 18 feet in length. The original plan created a difficult turn for the vehicle.

He said that the retired sheriff had requested the fabric fence, to permit ability to see if anyone was outside. Sheriff Welsh preferred a solid wall; the exterior of the premises will be monitored by surveillance cameras.

A brief presentation of the plan was made at the May 7th Council meeting. It will be discussed in detail at a special Council meeting set for 7 p.m., Monday, May 14th at Borough Hall. Council does not intend to take it to a vote at that meeting, Secretary Pamela Ahlstrand said.

Chairman Osterberg said that the cost of the design change will be covered under the present budget forth annex project. He stated that the project is not over budget.

Heightened security was one of the main reasons stated for the annex project. The present system requires the Sheriff Department to walk hand-cuffed prisoners across West High Street from a holding cell in the sheriff’s office into the courthouse side door.

They expect to vote on whether to grant the easement the next day at the regular workshop meeting, held between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The Secretary said that Council must decided, however, where the Tuesday workshop will be held, since the Borough meeting room will be in use for Election Day. The location will be announced Monday night and will be posted online; one may also call the Borough Office at 570-296-7140.

She added that even if the county were granted the easement, the county will still need to obtain a variance from the Zoning Hearing Board and seek approval from the Architectural Review Board.