Future site of the new South County courthouse. (Photo: Kirkner)
It may not be “The House that Ed Built,” but the future Mono County Superior Courthouse, which celebrates its official groundbreaking May 14, provides a triumphant coda to the judicial career of Judge Ed Forstenzer, who retired last month after serving 22 years on the bench.
The 20,000-square foot courthouse, which will be located at the corner of Hwy 203 and Sierra Park Road across the street from McDonald’s, is scheduled for completion by next summer. It will replace the court’s current 8,000-square foot digs on the third floor of the Sierra Center Mall.
Forstenzer said the upgrade was necessary as there was no longer any space remaining at the current facility to accommodate new personnel.
As the Superior Court’s Presiding Judge, Forstenzer has shepherded the courthouse project for over a decade.
As Forstenzer explained in an interview earlier this week, when the state assumed responsibility for California’s courthouses (from the counties) about a decade ago, it then took an inventory of the condition of the more than 200 courthouses it had inherited.
“When they saw we were on the third floor of a shopping mall, they were aghast,” recalled Forstenzer.
Mammoth was ultimately rated sixth in the state by the AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts) in terms of facility need.
That didn’t make the project a foregone conclusion.
In fact, Forstenzer said that Mammoth’s courthouse nearly lost its AOC funding in 2007 because “we had no place to put it [a new courthouse].”
Enter Jon Regelbrugge, who had been appointed as the United State Forest Service Mammoth and Mono Lake District Ranger in 2006.
Forstenzer credits Regelbrugge with facilitating the USFS land exchange for the 10-acre “McFlex” parcel. Partners include the Hospital District, Town, County and AOC.
With the site locked in, the funding was retained and now, a full 10 years after the state began its courthouse inventory process, Mammoth’s courthouse will be one of the first to be built under the aegis of the AOC.
Rendering images of the new courthouse can be found at www.courtinfo.ca.gov/programs/occm/projects_mono.htm.