•When the courthouse is completed, it will be 50,000 sq. ft. larger than the original courthouse, which was 16,000 sq. ft. total.
•Approx. 13 parking spaces will be lost in the downtown area due to construction and reworking of the streetscape, but it is estimated between 120 to 130 spaces will be added in the new parking area behind the Piggly Wiggly.
•According to Commissioner Robert Jones, a portion of the property the county purchased beside Pioneer Road may be used for a judicial center in the future.
•Demolition of the rear leg of the courthouse will begin this week.
Following a presentation from Pickens County Commissioner Robert Jones, the Jasper City Council approved closure of a portion of Depot Street that will be used as a staging area during renovations on the courthouse.
Jones, speaking at the regular Jasper Council meeting held Jan. 18, offered a general overview on progress of the SPLOST-funded courthouse project, detailed the county’s proposed traffic flow changes around the courthouse and requested the council close Court Street and a portion of Depot Street, the roads that run parallel to one another on either side of the courthouse.
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If the council approves all of the county’s proposals at its next council meeting, traffic flow around the courthouse will change, parking off of Court Street may disappear, and landscaping, curbing and guttering in the area will be altered.
Citing both public safety issues and logistics, the county requested the portion of Depot Street that falls between Wall Street and North East streets be closed, as well as all of Court Street from Main Street to the road in front of the railroad depot (Wheeler Street).
“I’ve got to try to protect the public,” Jones said. “We’ve got to tear that [back] section [of the courthouse] down, and we’ve got to haul that off, so we need this area closed probably in the later part of March and first of April.”
Following a question from city employee Lonnie Waters, who cited concerns about public safety during Main Street events, Jones said that while the current caution tape around the courthouse has been approved by OSHA, the county will look into installing a plastic safety fence around that construction area.
Jones told council members that renovations on the courthouse include improvements to the building’s foundation, which he said will necessitate the pulling up of a portion of Court Street.
“We are going to have to take part of this street up to get this foundation in at sometime or another,” Jones said. “Once we get the foundation in, we can put the street back up and functioning.”
After Jones’ presentation, Councilmember Anne Morrow asked the commissioner how long the roads would be closed. While he did not have an exact timeframe, Jones estimated the courthouse project would take between 18 and 24 months.
Jones noted the county has leased the old federal building at the corner of Richard and West Church streets for courthouse operations for a 24-month period, which can be extended 12 months.
Councilmember Jim Looney then asked if the county has approached businesses that would be directly affected by the Court Street closure.
Jones told the council he has not yet approached those businesses, which include the state probation office and the handful of offices in the Edge Building, but that the county would be doing so soon.
Read more about the courthouse this week in our print edition or in our e-edition.