Courthouse Plans Developing, Cost Remains Factor

Pulaski County CourthouseThe Pulaski County Commissioners spent time reviewing proposed upgrades and renovations to the courthouse.

Plans have been several months in the works with engineering reviews and architectural considerations being made. Although the plan has not yet been green-lighted, Pulaski County has spent considerable time evaluating the problems facing the courthouse and some possible solutions.

Commissioner Larry Brady says despite the estimated costs, there are issues that are expected to be addressed at some point

“We still have to look at the structural issues of the roof and this building,” says Brady. “We still have to look at the single point entry that is being mandated by the state, for the security overall of the building, getting in and out. Even if we don’t do an addition, those things still need to be on the table to be addressed.”

Monday night’s Commissioner’s meeting showcased schematic designs for the courthouse. Plans call for reinforcing the attic space and upgrading the HVAC system. A few other issues are also addressed in the plan such as strengthening retaining walls on the exterior of the courthouse and making the courthouse building ADA compliant.

In addition to maintaining the integrity of the original building, Pulaski County may be planning for 9-thousand square feet of expansion. A new building, modeled after the original building, with a sandstone exterior, would provide office space and a single entry point on the western side of the original courthouse.

CDC Executive Director Nathan Origer says it’s difficult to imagine paying for the project without a projected increase in taxes.

“It’s hard enough for our businesses to get their talent to live in this county when we have the highest income tax rate in the state,” says Origer. “I know there are serious structural issues here, I am all for making this building ADA compliant, but I’m wondering: has the county looked at any alternatives like buying an existing building in town near the courthouse that could be refinished for less than $4 or $5-million.”

Under the proposal the architects have made, total renovations could cost as much as $7-million.

Ideas have been circulated to bond the project, but scope is still up for debate. Taking the project to referendum may also be a possibility.