The discussion continues on the future Augusta County Courthouse

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 11:23 AM EDT
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VERONA, Va. (WHSV) - Discussions about the location of the new Augusta County Courthouse continued Thursday night at a public forum.

Tony Bell with Moseley Architect was there to present the plans of both the Staunton and Verona location options and talk through some of the lingering questions voters had before heading to the polls.

There were two topics that stuck out besides the cost estimates of the courthouse: timeline and expansion availability comparisons.

As far as the timeline, Bell explained that if both projects started on Jan. 1, 2023, the Verona location’s projected completion date would be September 2025. However, the Staunton location would not be completed until May 2027. That is due to the fact that a temporary courthouse would need to be built before construction could start on the new building.

“Currently, what’s in the estimate for temporary construction is a modular unit, which would be a rental, and we would have to renovate that modular unit for the courts to be there,” County Administrator Tim Fitzgerald explained.

He said that was the most cost-effective option, and after the new courthouse is ready, the units would be removed from the Government Center in Verona where it would be housed.

County officials estimate the cost of the temporary location to be approximately $15 million.

When it came to expansion, Bell said the Verona option would have plenty of space to add on because the property is larger. The Staunton location has more boundaries, which Bell’s plan maximizes immediately. Therefore, there is no room for expansion.

He said the proposed courthouse plans follow the size requirements of the Virginia Courthouse Facility Guidelines based on the findings of their space needs assessment in 2015.

One question asked was what happens to the existing courthouse no matter which location is chosen.

Fitzgerald assured that the building will remain and will be utilized.

He said the Board of Supervisors has thrown around some ideas of how to use the space, but a specific one has not been nailed down yet.

The crowd in attendance tonight seemed to favor the Verona option, but, ultimately, it will come down to what happens at the polls.

”Don’t think this is a slam dunk,” Augusta County Board of Supervisors Chair Gerald Garber said. “Don’t tell your friends, it’s okay not to bother to vote. ‘Cause it’s a big deal. It’s the biggest deal you’ll vote on in your lifetime.”

Officials said voters will be able to choose either Staunton or Verona on the ballot instead of the traditional ‘yes’ or ‘no’ options.

Another public forum is scheduled for October 18.

For more on the Augusta County Courthouse, check out these stories:

Augusta County set to host public information session on courthouse

Verona and Staunton courthouse cost estimates revealed

Now on 3: Augusta County courthouse referendum

Future of Augusta County Courthouse put to vote