The state of Virginia is requiring Washington County to develop a solution to the inadequate space at the county courthouse — 88,000 square feet is required; 47,000 square feet is available.

The expense will be entirely on the shoulders of the county taxpayers. It will NOT be paid for by the federal or state governments. Building a new building is the most expensive plan and will most likely raise county taxes. Remodeling the existing building still leaves a confusing hodgepodge of connected buildings and additions, all on different levels. Also, the removal of asbestos and lead paint is expensive and time-consuming. Then there’s the nightmare of conducting daily court functions while construction is ongoing for months.

Still, there’s the BIG inadequate parking problem. No one has offered a cost analysis of acquiring and preparing the proposed vacant lots for parking or the cost of a possible parking garage.

The local lawyers want to keep it at the present location because it’s the most convenient to them. I appreciate the desire to preserve this historic building, and keeping it is important, but as the county courthouse, its time and usefulness is past. Maybe if it could be converted into office spaces, these same lawyers would move into them, unless of course they are afraid the spaces would be too small and the parking too inconvenient.

My opinion, moving the courthouse is a “no-brainer.” Being able to reuse an existing empty building at the lowest cost to the average taxpayer, having it all on one level with plenty of parking, only seems reasonable. The Board of Supervisors needs to file the court petition to hold a referendum for the November election and allow the county taxpayers to decide how best to spend their own tax money.

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