The move of Delaware County's juvenile and probate courts from their current location in leased space at 88 N. Sandusky St. to the Hayes administration building a couple of blocks north can't come soon enough for those who work there.

The move of Delaware County's juvenile and probate courts from their current location in leased space at 88 N. Sandusky St. to the Hayes administration building a couple of blocks north can't come soon enough for those who work there.

"Major issues" include the lack of space and the way the building is configured, but the more immediate concern is safety, said Dave Hejmanowski, juvenile and probate court magistrate.

In February, the county commission approved the relocation of both courts to the Hayes building after the board of elections moves to the county Willis building on U.S. Route 23 north of Delaware.

The $258,000 annual lease on the rented space will expire at the end of 2010, but the commissioners agreed that some offices would move into vacant office space in the Hayes building almost immediately to alleviate overcrowded conditions.

Bruce Gardner of Gardner Architects in Delaware is now working with the court staff to come up with a list of space needs so he can begin to lay out the courtrooms and offices for both courts. He also is working with people from the prosecutor's office and job and family services to provide more space in the Hayes Building.

Hejmanowski said the current space is "inadequate" for the number of cases they hear.

Juvenile cases are up 20 percent over a year ago, he said.

Attorneys meet with clients in hallways because no conference room is available, he said. There is only one waiting room so defendants, crime victims and families are forced into close proximity, and widows there to handle their husband's estate end up waiting next to juvenile inmates in orange jumpsuits and shackles, he said.

Magistrate Sharon McCollister hears custody cases in her small second-floor courtroom where parents on each side of the issue sit less than an arm's length from each other unless their attorneys switch seats with them to provide a buffer zone, she said.

Because things can get heated in her courtroom, small windows were installed in the doors so security personnel can keep watch. The problem, she said, is the windows allow sound to travel so they had to move witnesses and other family members to the first-floor lobby, which is already overcrowded.

In one office, four people share the space with one desk sitting halfway into a former closet.

"We're paying $280,000 a year for this," Hejmanowski said.

The current facility is about 16,000 square feet.

About 28,000 square feet is vacant space in the Hayes building, most of it in the area vacated by the elections board. The two courts need between 22,500 and 25,000 square feet of space to meet current needs with enough additional space for future growth, Hejmanowski said.

When Gardner completes the new floor plans, the project will go to bid and construction can begin, county administrator Dave Cannon said. The goal is to have everything done before the current lease expires.