Commissioners ‘bark’ has bite

Published 10:35 am Thursday, September 8, 2011

WINTON – Hertford County Commissioners are taking seriously the thought of moving the county’s courthouse.

During their regular meeting Monday morning, the board received news from Hertford County Manager Loria D. Williams of a change request made by the architects of the courthouse project.

The request from Ware Bonsall Architects was for up to $9,500 for services rendered because of the additional parking concerns expressed by the Winton Town Council. Included among the costs was a provision for Ware Bonsall to send someone to the Winton council meeting September 12. There the Winton board has scheduled a public hearing on a variance request made by county officials in regards to courthouse construction.

Commission Chairman Johnnie R. Farmer asked if the architect charged more each time they had to appear before the Winton board. Williams said the change was only for additional work done because of requests from the town.

Farmer said he had spoken to many people in the county about the problems that have been posed by parking issues for the prospective new courthouse which is currently scheduled to be built on Tryon Street.

“In the 10 years I have been a commissioner it has never been brought to my attention that there is insufficient parking for the governmental center,” he said. “We are taking this issue very seriously. We are not just woofing.”

Farmer said the board would continue to explore all alternatives to settle the issue, including the possibility of building the courthouse somewhere other than Winton.

Both Ahoskie and Murfreesboro have publicly sought the courthouse project and the board has alternative possibilities in both communities.

Farmer said, however, that nothing will be decided until after the September 12 meeting of the Winton Town Council when the commissioners ask again for a variance on the town’s parking requirements.

The board held a closed session Monday, after which they took several steps relating to the courthouse project.

The first step was to authorize the $9,500 change in the contract with Ware Bonsall.

The second was to opt against buying any additional property to be used for parking for the new courthouse. The board had originally submitted offers for two parcels in the town of Winton, but decided Monday not to pursue purchase.

“We think we can show sufficient parking without spending more taxpayer money,” Farmer said.

More information about the possible location of the courthouse will likely be decided following the meeting September 12 at the Winton Town Hall. The meeting is open to the public.