County to renovate, repurpose downtown structure

(KYTX) - This morning, the Commissioners Court of Smith County approved the purchase of a building at 218 East Locust Street in downtown Tyler that will become the future home of the Smith County Community Supervision and Corrections Department (Adult Probation).

"It is our plan to begin renovating the Probation building in early Spring 2013" said County Judge Joel Baker. The construction process should last approximately 4 to 5 months.

Upon completion, the remodeled building will provide more than 15,000 square feet of office space for the probation department employees, and will include training classrooms and additional parking for probationers. The building's proximity to the Courthouse and Sheriff's Office was an important consideration due to the frequent interaction between probations officers, the courts, and law enforcement. The final design will include input from architectural consultants, the Commissioners Court, Adult Probation and the local Council of Judges.

"It was a critical factor in the court's decision to purchase the facility," Judge Baker said.

The purchase will allow the County to fulfill the long-time objective of vacating the Smith County Office Building on the corner of Elm Street and Broadway Avenue at the former site of the 1950's era Carlton Hotel.

The Adult Probation department currently housed in the Carlton employs 67 people. More than 5,000 people are currently on court-ordered probation from Smith County courts, and the department receives daily visits from the people who are supervised on probation.

"We're excited about this purchase and for what it means to our employees. They have had to deal with a poor working environment for many years, and the new facility will be a breath of fresh air for the men and women who serve our community," according to Baker. "For the community, it means we will be able to rehabilitate another downtown building which results in savings, and we have a buyer who has big plans for the dilapidated Carlton hotel. It's a win-win situation for everyone."


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