Residents to vote on future of Miami-Dade Couthouse - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Residents to vote on future of Miami-Dade Couthouse

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MIAMI (WSVN) -- Wear and tear is taking its toll on a historic courthouse in South Florida. Some feel it's time to fix things, and soon voters could get their say.

"We cannot continue to burden this building the way we are," said 11th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Bertila Soto.

Construction began in 1925, and in 1928 when the doors opened at the Miami-Dade Courthouse it was the tallest building in the Southeast. Fast Forward to 2014, and now the building has a tall list of problems. "Yes, we have termites. We have water intrusion. We have air quality. We have mosquitos. We have flooding," said Bertila Soto.

In the basement, a constant stream of water flows to drain the flooding. "The water went up four inches yesterday," said Miami-Dade Courthouse Judge Jennifer Bailey.

Bailey took 7News on a tour where she pointed out structural problems with 132 columns in the building. Since the basement was built below the water line, constant flooding is a problem, and rust is the evidence.

"You don't always know what you'll find when you open a file," said Bailey.

Cracked ceilings are also a concern, as important court cases are commonly soaked. "So literally they're just put in front of a fan," said Bailey.

Traffic in this building over the years has only increased. Every year, nearly a million people come to the courthouse. Right now, the courthouse has 190,000 pending cases.

While the views from up high in the building may be some of the best in town, there are at least four floors that cannot be used because of bad air quality. You can even see the algae growing on the walls.

So these judges are asking for a new courthouse to be built. They're hoping Miami-Dade commissioners will vote next Wednesday to put this issue on a November ballot where voters will decide whether to spend about $500 million on a new facility, which would be paid for by an increase in property taxes.

"It's about $18 for the average household, and it's important because, you know, we have to be financially savvy," said Bertila Soto. "We know the citizens of Dade County are tired of these asks, but we are part of the third branch of government."

The historic landmark would not be torn down. If approved, it may be turned into a museum or hotel, but one thing is for sure, these judges agree that it is no longer a place fit for justice to be served. "We need the citizens of Dade County to realize this is important not just for us but for them," said said Bailey.

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