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Halifax supervisors ripped for shunning public’s input on Courthouse

SoVaNow.com / September 07, 2017
A critic of the Halifax County Courthouse redesign ripped into the Halifax County Board of Supervisors for failing to seek out the public’s views on how the project should be handled.

What’s more, said Barbara Bass, she objects to being told by supervisors that they were unable to talk about the Courthouse Renovation Project since they were under a gag order, when no such gag order existed.

Bass leveled the criticisms at Tuesday night’s meeting of supervisors, building on opposition to the Courthouse plan that has come from the Town of Halifax.

While she prefaced her comments by noting her personal interest in the county’s history — Bass is president of the local Historical Society — she also emphasized that she was speaking solely as an individual citizen, not on the Society’s behalf.

“I have been passionate about the courthouse and its historical importance to the county. My heart is sad and heavy tonight because of the way, I personally believe, this project has been handled from the beginning,” Bass told supervisors.

“I do believe that a more positive outcome could have been produced if only the public and other entities had been involved from day one. I attended a meeting last week” — an apparent reference to the Town of Halifax Planning Commission — “and the controversy was to the point that I was not sure exactly what the meeting was about.

“I still do not understand why the Board of Supervisors decided to not follow Virginia State Supreme Court guidelines for preservation of historic courthouses.”

Bass said she had been told by at least two members of the Board of Supervisors on more than one occasion that the public could not be advised or consulted about the project, because of a gag order. If a gag order had existed, it would have been issued by a judge presiding over a lawsuit brought by the state judiciary to compel improvements to the dilapidated Courthouse.

No such gag order existed, contrary to what Bass said she was told by Board members. She did not name whom among the supervisors made the claim.

She further complained that an outside advisory committee that was named to oversee the project was active only for several months before it was disbanded. The committee did little work on the renovation project, Bass said.

She concluded by telling supervisors, “Therefore in the future, I believe, there is no need for me to make any more comments to you.”

Bass’s comments were the only moment when the Courthouse issue came up in the supervisors’ meeting.

Other speakers, however, addressed other issues.

One asked supervisors to provide interim relief to residents of ED-6 who need a place to leave their solid waste since green boxes were recently removed from the Turbeville Ruritan Club area.

Val Conner, a resident of the district, said that over the weekend, he had taken his trash to the Delilah convenience site which was overrun by debris. Conner decided to drive to Danville with his trash, hoping that by the time he returned to the Delilah site there would be more room for his solid waste, but there was not.

He finally drove to the South Boston convenience site to deposit his trash.

“We need some relief, even if it is an interim solution,” Conner told supervisors.



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Comments

Agree with Mrs. Bass. The court house is a mess. I hope the town can hold this up so it can be redone. Wonder if citizens can protest the court for input. This is total lack of respect on the part of BOS of the citizens of Halifax. I am really tired of them acting like little kings.

Comments

I disagree. I don't know of any king who bows to his court. More like court jesters don't you think?

Comments

Let's see....Halifax County ignored the condition(s) of the historic Courthouse until the judges forced them to act to correct operational and security deficiencies. And they are doing it without the benefit (and limitations) of historic tax credits? Check. The town seems to have remained quiet while the gemstone of their town slowly weathered and deteriorated over the years .Now anything done to the building must receive their exacting approval? And the town does not have an historic zoning district with design guidelines and Historical and Architectural Review Board? Check. And the Commonwealth Attorney…well never mind. And once again the historic preservationists representing Halifax County find their advice on a Jefferson Courthouse ignored while plans for Halifax County historic tourism continue to thrive on lip music. Checkmate. Sad, but me thinks it be time for the project to proceed without the county having to sue the town for its permits.

Comments

The squandering of public funds will continue....surely this new building will soon resemble what it is replacing very soon again left to decay from lack of maintenance.. no but this time it will be different...our new structure will be a draw for tourists and we will gladly surprise them with a visit here when they get on the Halifax bus....that seems to sit idle during key events despite what it was promoted as being used for...


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