It’s been a part of Augusta since the 1860’s and keeping the historic old court building would not cost the city any extra dollars.
“Just confirmed the numbers being correct, definitely this is something being a game changer in the community. I think the community is going to say, ‘now look, guys, you got to do this’,” said Augusta Commissioner Sean Frantom.
Originally, City Administrator Janice Jackson said, to do the selective demolition on the court building would add $206,000 to the cost. But, Jackson now says the extra cost is only $31,000 more.
Historic Augusta says, if the entire building is saved, the group will cover the increase in cost. “We want to do what it takes to save the buildings. The group forming for the Jewish museum wants to do the same thing. It would seem like the thing the Commission would want to do,” said Erick Montgomery, of Historic Augusta.
But, cost isn’t the only concern for some Commissioners. They see the old court building as being in the way of possible parking and green space.
“My mind was made up that we would save the synagogue and get rid of the other building,” said Commissioner Dennis Williams. “Even though it’s much cheaper?” we asked. “It’s going to cost money in the long run,” said Williams.
“We’ve spent right at $35 million. In this building, right here, we have inadequate parking for the most part. There’s nothing unusual in how we do business here, so at some point, we have to try and rectify the ship,” said Commissioner Ben Hasan.
“I understand, we have a parking issue, but if you saw the plan, there was a lot of green space. Wasn’t a lot of parking spots to it, so we still have parking around here,” said Frantom.
A motion made in the Public Services Committee meeting to tear down the entire old court building deadlocked 2-2, meaning it goes to the full Commission next week without a recommendation.
If the court building is saved by Commissioners, the city has no use for it, at this time. Montgomery said, if it’s saved, his group would be able to find a non-profit or other organization to take it over.