The people have spoken on courtroom issue

Published 1:52 pm Saturday, November 11, 2017

To the Editor:

The overwhelming ‘No’ vote to moving the courthouse to the Camp Parkway speaks volumes: Keep the courthouse in Courtland.

After studying the costs for each of the two proposals, I am convinced that a viable economical courthouse can be built in Courtland for much less than $26,500,000. The vast majority of the people who voted want the courthouse to remain in Courtland, and if the county buys the 2.8-acre lot and house from the Owens, there would be more than enough room for a nice courthouse with ample parking space. The safety and security concerns expressed by the judges, which were addressed in the courthouse planned for the Camp Parkway, could easily be incorporated into a Courtland courthouse.

I’ve known Rhett Owens for approximately 40 years and have found him to be an honest, fair, considerate person who would not take advantage of the taxpayers.

I am not a member of the Courthouse Advisory Committee and have never been on Facebook. Before I wrote my letter to the editor, I called Rhett on the phone last week to confirm that he and his wife would sell his house.

It is my opinion that the Board of Supervisors should build the courthouse on the existing parking lot and buy the 2.8 acres adjacent to the existing parking lot for future parking space required by the courthouse. It is interesting to know that the Courtland proposal considered in the Nov. 7 election contains a $450,000 cost for off-site parking across the street from the courthouse, and [that] Rhett offered to sell his house and 2.8-acre lot to the county for $400,000.

If part or all of the existing annex is deemed unnecessary, additional parking space would become available if required for restricted parking for the judges by razing what is not needed.

The $13,500,000 price tag for the proposed camp parkway courthouse [just for the building itself] most likely has bells and whistles on people’s wish lists involved with the courthouse, but probably are not necessary. Do we really need three courtrooms and not two? If three are deemed necessary, do they all need to be the same size? Could the number and area of proposed offices be decreased slightly? The point I’m trying to make is that the cost of the courthouse is proportional to the number of square feet being built.

If the new courthouse was built on the existing parking lot, the $1,360,000 off-site temp facilities cost would be eliminated, as well as the $500,000 on-site temporary facilities cost. Build the new courthouse, have it completely completed and move out of the old annex in a few days.

The on-site work cost of $2,567,000 seems quite high to me, especially when it is considered with a $12,453,000 old building demolition/new addition construction cost.

As I said in last week’s letter, I hope and pray the Board of Supervisors will spend our hard-earned taxes as frugally and efficiently as possible by considering this proposal and other proposals that may evolve before a final decision is made on the courthouse project.

Larry Brown