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Augusta County holds public hearing on courthouse options

Moseley Architects
A rendering of the Verona version of the Augusta County Courthouse. Architects and administrators have presented this option as cheaper, more straightforward to build, and as having the potential to expand in the future. It could be completed by September 2025.

In a public hearing on Thursday evening, Augusta County officials and architects discussed details about the two courthouse construction options on the ballot this fall. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

Augusta residents are approaching a referendum on where to build their new courthouse – either in Staunton, on the site of the current general district courthouse; or in Verona, on the property of the government center. Both options consolidate the general district, juvenile and domestic relations, and circuit courts into a single building.

A rendering of the Staunton option, construction of which is further complicated because the building sits overtop Lewis Creek, and its lower level of parking would be in the floodplain. It could be completed by May 2027.

The firm Moseley Architects has drafted preliminary plans for each option, and price tags – $80 million for Verona, and $104 million for Staunton. One of the factors driving up Staunton's price is that the current general district courthouse would have to be demolished first, and then construction within that confined space would be more difficult. Also, the county would have to come up with a temporary place to house the courts, which County Administrator Timothy Fitzgerald said would cost a minimum of $15 million.

TIMOTHY FITZGERALD: Currently, what's in the estimate for the temporary construction is a modular unit which would be a rental. we would have to renovate that modular unit to allow for the courts to be there.

Whichever option voters choose, the county intends to hold on to the historic circuit courthouse.

FITZGERALD: The Board of Supervisors has been in discussions with a group that would have another use for that building – an opportunity to increase some tourism activity in downtown Staunton.

But if they do move the courts to Verona, Fitzgerald said the board of supervisors might consider selling the existing general district courthouse. That property is valued at a little over $800,000, although Fitzgerald said that is artificially low, because it's assessed as a government building.

Another public hearing is scheduled for October 18.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.