Board votes to investigate only two sites for justice center
by Eric Snyder --
Mar 15, 2006 | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two sites — both downtown and within two blocks of each other — will be the only sites investigated by CMW, Inc. architect Dennis Arthur and a civil engineer over the next month as potential locations for the county’s new justice center.

At their meeting Wednesday, March 8, the Project Development Board was permitted by Administrative Office of the Courts protocol to investigate three sites for the center — regardless of if they’d been offered for sale at last month’s public hearing.

A motion was quickly passed designating the current courthouse as the board’s No.1 pick for the new center. Of the parcels offered for sale at February’s hearing — which included two outside city limits and two in the Goodnite Motel area — the board voted to also investigate a two-acre plot on the West end of downtown Cadiz, on which the old Gulf gas station now sits.

“Why do we have to have a third one?” board member Judge Bill Cunningham asked.

“You don’t,” replied Vance Mitchell, an AOC advisor.

Circuit Clerk Pam Perry, also a board member, asked if property along Lakota Drive near the Post Office should also be investigated. It was a location suggested at February’s hearing, though no parcel was offered for sale — a point Mitchell said was moot as they thought about potential locations.

“It doesn’t have to be something that was submitted,” he said.

“I still have people calling me all the time” asking if the board wasn’t also considering locations outside the downtown area, Perry said.

Mitchell wanted to know the location of Lakota Drive, reminding Perry that the AOC requires boards to exhaust all downtown options before locating courthouses elsewhere.

Board member County Judge-Executive Berlin Moore told Mitchell it was “on the very edge of town.” As he finished his sentence, board member and county magistrate Kevin Stroud said, “about a mile away.”

“Judge, to cut to the chase,” Stroud said, “a majority of people want it across the street,” referring to the current courthouse. He said there was no reason therefore to have Arthur investigate “half the county.”

On top of additional surveying costs, Moore said he was unsure if locations along Lakota Drive even had access to sewer lines and utilities. If not, Arthur said locating the center there would be “cost prohibitive.”

Stroud said he was sure gas and water was available was there, but couldn’t vouch for sewer service.

In the end, the vote to limit the prioritized list of sites to two was a unanimous one.

“If these don’t pan out, for whatever reason, then we’ll have to come back,” Mitchell said.

When the West downtown Cadiz plot was offered at last month’s hearing, which is currently second on the board’s priority list, it was mentioned that the previous owner had removed old subterranean gas tanks from the property, but didn’t have the paperwork on hand to prove it had been done properly, a point which was not lost on Arthur and others at the meeting that followed.

Moore confirmed Monday night those forms, if they continue to go missing, will be an issue.

“They’ll have to be there for that to be a suitable site,” he said.

For the rest of this story, please see this week's edition of The Cadiz Record.
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