New courthouse design to be unveiled
Plans for rebuilding the Morgan County Courthouse are moving forward with a public meeting scheduled to unveil a revised courthouse design. The public meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 16 at the Berkeley Springs High School cafeteria.
The Morgan County Commission had asked architect Tom Potts of Silling and Associates to go back to the drawing board and come up with a design that was within the county's means to build.
Potts designed a two-story building that would have the structural integrity to add on a third story later, if deemed necessary. His initial courthouse design had three stories. The revised courthouse design does not include offices for the Town of Bath.
If the commissioners approve a courthouse design within the next 4-8 weeks, the project could go to bid by January or February.
A groundbreaking for the new courthouse could occur by the spring of 2008 and construction could begin by early summer if that time frame is met.
The building alternatives would be a courthouse with two stories, two stories with the outer shell of a third story or three stories, said Commission President Glen Stotler. Parking is also an integral component, he said.
The cost of building has increased now to $250 a square foot, said Commissioner Tommy Swaim. If the delay in construction goes on much longer, then the construction costs will jump, said Swaim, who is a retired contractor.
He was upbeat about the two-story design, which would be set back from the street with a park area. Swaim said it would be shortsighted not to build a building where you couldn't build higher if you needed, "especially if you can't spread out." He felt the two-story building would still address our needs.
"We listened to the people and tried to cut some of the costs. It will not detract from the building. It still will be sharp-looking," said Swaim.
Cost estimates for the new courthouse design were still being worked out, but they could come in several million lower than the $13 million plus price estimated for a three-story courthouse.
Commissioner Brenda Hutch-inson liked what she had seen of the preliminary designs for the two-story courthouse. The new design was a response to what people have said about the size and cost of the three-story courthouse, she said.
We need to have the space because we've outgrown it, said Hutchinson. Parking is also an issue for employees and those that use the county facilities. Hutchinson thought that maybe a parking garage was needed.
Hutchinson thought people would be happy with the new design, especially with the connection being planned between the courthouse and the Magistrate and Family Court.
"I'm more excited about this than the original design because we can afford it," said Hutchinson.