Courthouse resolution dies

Published 8:07 am Thursday, February 25, 2016

A proposed resolution seeking a 90-day extension in submitting final design documents for the county courthouse expansion project was defeated on Tuesday at the Charlotte Court House Town Council meeting.

The motion — made by Councilman David D. Watkins Jr. — to adopt the amended resolution died due to the lack of a second.

Final design documents are due for the project on Feb. 28.

Explaining his motion, Watkins said the whole purpose of the resolution was to lower the project’s impact on the historic courthouse square.

The town previously sent a resolution to the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors in March requesting that they direct their architectural firm, Glave and Holmes, to produce plans showing the proposed courthouse on county land adjacent to the existing parking lot.

The resolution called for redesigning the courthouse to reflect Jeffersonian architecture.

“The board of supervisors (does) not have control and we have no control,” said Councilwoman Debra Andrews. “The judges have put a lot of meticulous thought into ordering this to the board of supervisors. I think we really need to support our supervisors.”

During the meeting, County Supervisor Gary Walker presented the latest information regarding the proposed courthouse project to the council.

“I know the board’s position is not popular with some,” said Walker. “We have to do what’s in the best interest of the 12,500 taxpayers in Charlotte County.”

He said the main objective has always been to build the smallest courthouse possible. The location of the proposed courthouse must allow for a connector to the current circuit court clerk’s office, he said.

County resident Terry Ramsey expressed his views during the public comment portion of the meeting regarding the new courthouse.

“We do not need a new courthouse,” Ramsey said. “Our courthouse is, and always will be, the Jeffersonian courthouse in the middle of the Courthouse Square. That will be the picture the town and county will showcase on their websites and take pride in. Will you change the picture on the wall to showcase the new building?”

Ramsey said the county does need a modern, functional courts facility; however, it should respect the Jeffersonian courthouse by being a lower-profile building that does not distract from the historic courthouse square.

“We can always agree to disagree,” said Walker. “We’re simply doing what we think is best.”

Walker said the board of supervisors has voted unanimously twice to build the proposed courthouse.

He said security was the driving force behind the plans.

“The connector is the kicker,” said Watkins. “…It’s a shame you have to design an entire structure because of some simple little connector.”

Watkins said once it was built, there will be no going back to make changes.

Councilman Kermit Jones  said he didn’t know if the town council had any choice in the matter, stating that the the historic courthouse was not going to be torn down.

“We’re still preserving the square,” he said.