Architect proposes 5 scenarios for Lauderdale County Courthouse

File photo

Lauderdale County Courthouse

The Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors are studying five options to renovate or replace the county courthouse, with prices ranging from around $30 million to more than $46 million.

County Administrator Chris Lafferty distributed copies of architect Belinda Stewart's 66-page Facilities Study, which detailed her findings on how supervisors could tackle what to do about the aging courthouse, at Thursday morning's work session at the Courthouse Annex.

Three scenarios involved renovating the existing courthouse, while two scenarios centered around the Village Fair Mall site. Scenarios and projected price range included:

• Adding on to the courthouse and renovating the Annex at a price of $37.95 million;

• Not adding on to the existing courthouse but renovating the Annex and removing the jail at a price of $37.27 million;

• Renovating the courthouse and adding on and selling the Annex at a price of $30.9 million. The jail is not included in the plan;

• Moving all county business to the old Village Fair Mall site on 22nd Avenue at a projected price of $43.65 million;

• Moving all county business to the Village Fair Mall and selling lots around the site for private development at a projected price of $46.75 million.

President Joe Norwood said supervisors need to spend a few days studying the proposals.

"We need to dissect all this over the next week and come back and discuss it," Norwood said. "We'll contact Miss Stewart to ask her to come in for an exit presentation. I know there are five scenarios, We'll have to go through these five scenarios and see what is most feasible for the county."

At earlier meetings, citizens have raised concerns over the possible contamination of the Village Fair Mall site, citing documents from the Department of Environmental Quality. Norwood said supervisors will study that possibility and make their decision once their findings are completed.

Stewart did not attend Thursday's meeting nor did any of her staff. For several months, supervisors have studied options for a new courthouse at another site or renovation of the current structure that was built in 1905. Stewart, of Belinda Stewart Architects, from Eupora, was selected to study the courthouse question in May.

Scenarios discussed previously included the Village Fair Mall site on 22nd Avenue, the old Sears location, the federal courthouse, which houses the post office, the Peavey property, the old Kate Griffin Middle School property, the Courthouse Annex, and other facilities and sites.

Archery request

Supervisors also heard a presentation from Clarkdale High School archery team coach Ronnie Shoemaker, who said an event is scheduled for April 3-4 at the Lauderdale County AgriCenter and requested the $450 user fee be waived.

"Archery is a sport where no one sits on the bench and all 70 of my archers participate when we go to an event," Shoemaker said. "This sport is growing rapidly."

Shoemaker said 14 schools have signed up to participate in the event, including Southeast Lauderdale and Northeast Lauderdale high schools.

District 2 Supervisor Wayman Newell questioned Shoemaker about liability. Shoemaker said there have been no problems at any of the events he has attended. He has been at the school five years.

"We've never had an incident. There are no umpires to yell at or no instances where fans are angry," Shoemaker said.

Supervisors told Shoemaker his request would be on an upcoming agenda.

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