Courthouse Fate Still Undecided

The future of the Calhoun County Courthouse remains an unknown after a
more than three-hour meeting last Thursday morning produced no decision
from the board of supervisors on the two proposals for a new facility.


By JOEL McNEECE
The future of the Calhoun County Courthouse remains an unknown after a more than three-hour meeting last Thursday morning produced no decision from the board of supervisors on the two proposals for a new facility.
Architects Rud Robison and Charlie Watson, with Pryor and Morrow and Associates, returned to the meeting to again go over the two proposals. One involves building a new complex that would house everything but circuit clerk offices on county property next door to the county jail. The second proposal involves rebuilding a new courthouse facility on the Pittsboro Square. Both proposals include keeping the current large courtroom facility that was built in the 1970s, but renovating the inside of it.
The difference in cost of the two proposals is minimal. Staying on the square is estimated by the architects at $4,652,055 while splitting the courthouse into two campuses is estimated to cost $4,645,700. Neither of these figures includes the cost of moving personnel and equipment into a temporary home for approximately 18 months during construction. That has previously been estimated at $150,000 to move one way.
A question from the audience of approximately a dozen people prompted Robison to explain the new facility would have a realistic life span of 50 years with strong possibilities of lasting up to 100. All of the crowd in attendance were in favor of keeping it all on the Pittsboro Square.
“I'm concerned about the long-term costs for the county to upkeep two facilities,” said Pittsboro Mayor Reda Bullard, who also works in the tax assessor's office.
Cliff Easley asked if the board had considered acquiring the only piece of property on the square not owned by the county to allow for more room there. The one residence sits on the southwest corner and is owned and occupied by Dean Washington and his family.
Supervisor Earnest Fox said when they approached Washington before he wanted “too much” for the property.
“This is a 100 year, $5 million decision,” Bruce Mayor Robert Edward Oakley said. “One house on the square shouldn't be the stumbling block in making the best decision.”
Other issues raised were parking concerns if the courthouse was kept on the square. Bullard said her family owned the property directly behind the courthouse, and they would donate that to the county or sell for a "reasonable" price. She said that property along with the west side of the square should be sufficient for parking if the county acquired the Washington house.
The board recessed the meeting after more lengthy discussion without a decision made.
They resumed Friday where they agreed to revisit Washington and see if an agreement could be reached on acquiring that property on the square.
Supervisor Howard Morgan suggested they postpone any decisions on the courthouse until after the county budget is finished, which should be in the next two weeks.