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Rock wall, cleared trees, closed street: Courthouse tasks await

SoVaNow.com / November 09, 2017
Changes are afoot in the Town of Halifax as the county moves forward with the Courthouse Renovation Project.

If all goes to plan, Edmunds Boulevard behind the courthouse will soon be closed off to traffic on an intermittent basis — and later reopened as a one-way street — and a new rock wall will go up to replace the existing brick perimeter.

Before work begins to the building, crews will remove all of the trees on the courthouse square.

Those changes and more were outlined Monday night by County Administrator Jim Halasz as he went through the list of pending tasks with the Board of Supervisors.

According to Halasz, the following items must be completed with the relocation of courthouse functions to temporary quarters at the Bethune Office complex industrial arts building by late January:

» The parking lot at the Bethune Complex must be resurfaced,

» The court’s fiber internet network must be moved from the courthouse to the new location,

» Bidding of the project must be completed and approved prior to the move.

Halasz noted that the county has already sought bids from companies that are qualified to carry out the work. He said he hopes to have sealed bids returned by Dec. 7, with the county having 60 days to accept a bid.

» At the courthouse site itself, Edmunds Boulevard will be some times closed for the renovation work so construction equipment can be parked behind the building. When the street is reopened, there will no longer be two-way traffic there.

» Previously-approved ADA parking spots to be placed along Edmunds Boulevard behind the courthouse will now be sited behind the three law offices on the southern end of Edmunds Boulevard.

Halasz said he is working with VDOT and the Town of Halifax to change traffic patterns in the town.

» According to Ron Conner of B&B Consultants, one of the first construction tasks will be the building of the new 30-inch rock retaining wall to replace the current brick wall that currently encases the courthouse square.

Conner also explained that access to the courthouse grounds will be limited to two spots: one coming off the southern side of Edmunds Boulevard, the other at the western corner of Edmunds and Mountain Road. These will be the only entries for staff and clients of the Commonwealth Attorney’s office and the law offices of James Midkiff and Pam Gordon.

All the trees now standing on the courthouse square grounds will be removed to clear way for construction, and sidewalks will be improved and widened to six feet.

Conner warned the construction will impact local business owners, making parking extremely difficult and creating noise that will be very disruptive.

In separate action involving the private law offices located on the courthouse grounds, supervisors decided Monday night to increase the annual rental fee for the land on which the offices stand. Annual rent will be increased from $500 to $2,000.

The county has approved the purchase of two of the five offices, one from George Bagwell and the other from the family of the late Mickey Lewis.

The county had earlier purchased the office of the late state Sen. Howard P. Anderson, leaving only two of the offices individually owned. Those two belong James Midkiff and to the daughters of the late Jimmy Edmunds.

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I am not a tree hugger, but I think they could do that construction and leave a few of the trees.

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"ALL" the trees on the courthouse square?? Why on earth is this considered acceptable? Halifax County's historic courthouse is a jewel - admittedly in need of polishing, but this will destroy its setting. I dread seeing what this will do to downtown Halifax. Surely some other way can be found, to spare these beautiful old trees that grace the courthouse square, yet provide the needed updates. Was an environmental impact statement approved? I cannot see how it could have been. Trees clean and cool the air, provide shade and shelter for birds and small animals, and should be protected. Bad call, Halifax County Courthouse renovators.


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