- Last Updated on 07:41 AM 01/25/13
- BY Doug Ford
Security, accessibility and circulation were the buzz words summing up a Halifax County courthouse needs study presentation Thursday morning at a Halifax County Board of Supervisors’ strategic planning session held at Riverstone Centre.
No cost estimates pertaining to renovation of the historic structure were discussed in open session, either before or after the presentation by Emmett Lifsey and Mikel Griffin of CJMW Architecture.
Demolishing the old jail located in the basement of the facility and the lower portion of the Halifax County General District Court Clerk’s Office, along with construction of a new circuit courtroom in the area of the former jail were detailed.
Also included in the plan is relocation of the public entrance to the facility, along with additional space for a lobby, public restrooms and toilets, according to the presentation.
A second move, according to Griffin, would be finding a new home for the majority of sheriff’s office functions.
Noting the cramped conditions currently existing in the sheriff’s office, Lifsey referenced a narrow, four-foot wide corridor used by detainees, staff and the general public with potential for interaction between them.
“That would be a powder keg in terms of circulation,” Lifsey warned.
Separate entrances for courthouse staff, detainees and inmates and the general public also are incorporated in the plans.
A new courtroom would be very efficient with all the modern technology needed, Lifsey added, with the existing circuit courtroom becoming a space for secondary use.
Plans also call for the construction of an additional sally port at the rear of the courthouse facing Edmunds Boulevard.
Everything is pointed to increasing overall security, accessibility and circulation at the courthouse, Griffin said.
The courthouse facility currently contains from 37,000 to 38,000 square feet of space, excluding the abandoned jail, and the building housing the commonwealth attorney’s office contains 12,000 square feet, Griffin estimated.
Space needs for each department within the facility were identified, with staff from each department interviewed and consulted for purposes of the needs assessment study.
Griffin noted approximately 1,800 square feet of extra space across all departments in the courthouse would be adequate in terms of renovating the courthouse.
In response to a question posed by Halifax County Administrator Jim Halasz, Lifsey told supervisors Virginia courthouse guidelines have been followed in the development of the assessment study.
“Most existing offices meet the current Virginia courthouse guidelines,” he noted.
The study takes into account future growth as well, at least 20 years down the road, according to Lifsey.