ABINGDON, Va. — As county administrator, Jason Berry has told the story a lot — a parking problem persists in downtown Abingdon in the vicinity of the Washington County Courthouse.

And that’s one of the primary reasons county leaders may vacate the current courthouse and relocate county court functions to a former Kmart with 350 available parking spaces at 300 Towne Centre Drive in Abingdon for an estimated cost of $30 million.

The courthouse has 77 employees — but only 75 spaces, Berry said.

One potential solution on the drawing board is to build a parking garage in downtown Abingdon.

Yet local lawyers have argued that there are still little to no parking problems near the courthouse.

And the same word comes from Tony Sullivan, the courthouse town’s police chief.

For one, Sullivan says the town police no longer strictly enforce two-hour parking limits.

“We don’t have the downtown traffic that dictates that every day, hour-by-hour enforcement,” Sullivan said. “People are very respectful of the time.”

Certain court days could make conditions crowded, county officials say.

“But there’s plenty of parking on Main Street and Valley Street,” Sullivan said. “There’s plenty of parking on Park Street. It’s just the amount of effort that people want to get to their building.”

The town maintains a municipal lot with free parking near the Abingdon Farmers Market, which is about half a mile from the courthouse.

“There are free areas available,” Sullivan added. “Valley Street is free parking. You can park there all day long. The parking is there. It’s just how far people want to walk.”

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