Architects, engineers to present three ideas for courthouse

Published 10:23 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Representatives of Moseley Architects and the Timmons Group, an engineering firm, are scheduled to make a presentation this Friday on three proposals for either renovating the existing courthouse or building a new one in Southampton County. The meeting is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. and will be in the Regional Workforce Development Center of Paul D. Camp Community College.

Dr. Alan Edwards, chairman of the 13-member committee to study the issue, said meetings started in June 2016 and took place every several weeks.

“It was a very difficult process — complex,” is how Edwards described the discussions, adding that he’s found it all personally interesting. Initially, there were nine new sites considered before being narrowed to two.

Renovating the courthouse would cost about the same or a little more as building a new place, said Edwards. He noted that issues with the current structure are that it’s confined with no room for expansion and that it sits in a flood plain. Then’s there the logistics of how to hold court for two years with ongoing construction.

A referendum is scheduled for Election Day this November, and voters in the county will be asked if they’ll allow the Board of Supervisors to spend X amount of dollars to build a new courthouse.

Edwards’ concern is that if voters reject that referendum, then the state could take over

“It’s a Catch-22 situation,” he said. “I think it would be better to be in control of the situation than let someone else decide.”