Board asked to find new architect for courthouse
During his presentation about the Southampton Courthouse, county resident Joe Vick urged the supervisors to “take control of this project and stop using Moseley Architects.” He had distributed to the board and all else attending the Tuesday night meeting the results of research, “The Rising Cost of Courthouse Renovation.”
Speaking on behalf of the Citizens for Responsible Government, Vick said that an estimated cost of a new site in September 2016 was then $21,381,000. Two months later, the potential Camp Parkway site project could go up to $23,151,610. In both instances, there was not yet any projected cost for renovating the existing site.
From the minutes of the courthouse planning committee on Feb. 15, 2017, the renovation was then figured at $22,346,226, while the Camp Parkway plan was at $27,813,299 plus $5,467,073.
Based on an email from Moseley to county administrator Mike Johnson, the renovation was figured at $25,922,708; the Camp Parkway at $26,461,544 plus $538,836.
In the voter education material for the referendum, the renovation was estimated at $26,227,000; and the new site at $26,500,000.
“There was no blatant influence by the firm,” said Vick. “The architects were trying to please the committee.”
He did add that Tony Bell of the first is going to Franklin on June 10 to “get them back on track” about the matter.
Owing to financial strain, the City Council earlier in May put the brakes on the city’s involvement in the courthouse project for the time being.
“I’m trying to show you another way, a better way,” said Vick. “Get a new firm. Let’s not continue down same path with blinkers.”
Speaking of residents concerned about money, John Burchette of Sebrell asked the supervisors to withdraw the proposed contribution to the Cypress Cove Country Club. Instead, the board should devote any such money to something else such as schools.
Further, he asked the supervisors to delay any action on spending money for the courthouse issue until after the November elections.
In contrast, Larry Rose thanked the board for supporting the club’s public offering of reduced prices for golfing.
“It’s one of the better things you’ve done for the county, the kids,” he said.
Later in the meeting, Johnson confirmed that the Boykins company AEC Virginia, better known formerly as Narricot, had gone through a foreclosure. Further, IVP/Phenix, which is the company that had been operating the plant since last April, had not been the successful bidder when the property and equipment was auctioned off that month.
“The successful bidder has advised that it intends to cease operations at the Boykins plant, resulting in the layoff of 90 employees,” the administrator said. He added that Virginia Employment Commission and Hampton Roads Workforce Council staff(s) have already met with affected employees on May 13 and 16 to help them with their job searches. Seventy-nine percent of the affected employees attended the sessions, and 65 percent completed the questionnaire with their contact information in case similar positions become available in the Hampton Roads region. The county’s Public Utilities staff is working with AEC’s staff to coordinate the shutdown of the industrial wastewater discharge.