ABINGDON, Va. — Abingdon Town Council officially said “no” to moving the Washington County Courthouse out of the downtown district by adopting a resolution on Tuesday at its regular meeting.
The two-page resolution comes on the heels of the Washington County Board of Supervisors proposal to ask voters in a referendum on Nov. 5, “Shall the courthouse be removed to 300 Towne Centre Drive, and shall the Board of Supervisors be permitted to spend $30 million for purchase and renovation expenses therefor?”
Town Manager Jimmy Morani drafted the resolution at the request of the Town Council.
“The Town Council of Abingdon, Virginia opposes the relocation of the Washington County Courthouse to the former Kmart site and supports renovation and expansion of the existing courthouse facilities,” says the resolution, which passed with four votes and one abstention.
Councilman Al Bradley made Tuesday’s motion to adopt the resolution, seconded by Vice Mayor Cindy Patterson.
“People don’t want the courthouse to move,” Patterson said Tuesday.
Councilman Derek Webb abstained from voting, saying he and his wife work for K-VA-T Food Stores Inc., the parent company of Marathon Realty Corp., which owns the former Kmart.
The resolution addresses traffic, zoning, parking and an option to rebuild the courthouse.
“Washington County has received a Needs Assessment report from Thompson & Litton [architecture firm], which includes an option for full renovation and expansion of the existing courthouse facilities at an estimated cost less than the option contained in the referendum,” the resolution states.
The resolution notes that the address, 300 Towne Center Drive, is “generally known as the former Kmart site” and argues that the Board of Supervisors has not considered the necessary costs to improve traffic patterns near the courthouse. The resolution also raises the issue of the Kmart site not being zoned for courthouse use and the potential negative economic impact on Abingdon itself.
With the resolution, the council pledged to work in tandem with the county on expanding the existing courthouse.
“I think the resolution speaks for itself,” said Patterson, “and I hope that the Washington County Board of Supervisors will take our offer of helping them with parking.”
Mayor Wayne Craig, 79, said, “Putting the courthouse in a location where traffic congestion is a problem is not a very good thing to do.”
Earlier in the meeting, Abingdon attorney Byrum Geisler, 56, shared details of a parking study by Rummel, Klepper & Kahl LLP, of Roanoke, Virginia, as commissioned by the Washington County Bar Association, which has voted unanimously to oppose the relocation of the Washington County Courthouse.
This 2019 parking alternatives study, presented to the Abingdon Town Council on Tuesday, lists six solutions to address parking near the courthouse, including:
» Convert North Court Street to a one-way street to gain 14 spaces at a cost of $48,750;
» Add a tiered parking lot with a small retaining wall to gain 20 spaces for $187,500;
» Utilize existing parking areas to gain 49 spaces at a cost of $582,500;
» Remove a building to gain 53 spaces for $1,003,750;
» Build a four-story parking garage to gain 93 spaces at a cost of $5,653,750;
» Construct a three-story parking garage to add 110 spaces at a cost of $5,777,500.
“We arranged to have this done,” Geisler said. “There are economical solutions to the parking issue that have been provided to the supervisors.”