CHIPLEY - 11 architectural firms attended a pre-site courthouse planning session Monday, hosted by members of the newly formed courthouse committee.
Washington County Attorney Jeff Goodman welcomed those who represented area firms hoping to snag the contract for the new courthouse construction project.
Goodman stated the committee hopes to make a recommendation on the selection of an architectural firm to the Washington County Board of County Commissioners by the end of July. Currently, the plan is to rebuild on the current courthouse site, but architects are expected to help the county find an alternative site should the current property prove unfeasible with the new design.
Goodman also advised candidates, Washington County doesn't need a "flashy building," and the entire $9.2 million allocated for the courthouse by the state doesn't need to be spent.
"We want to be good stewards of this money," said Goodman. "We want to give the people of this county something to be proud of, but we also want to be efficient and maximize our dollars while still planning for future growth."
Architects were told the building's size is planned to be around 25,000 to 30,000 square feet, that improved parking and security measures were a must, and warned there are abatement issues to be addressed, such as demolition of the old jail and the cleaning and remediation of old gas tanks.
"Those issues shouldn't be too difficult, and we are already working with the West Florida Planning Council to obtain grant money (for the removal of the gas tanks) and with the Chipley Revitalization Agency to apply for a grant for the demolition of the courthouse and/or old jail," advised the attorney.
Both Goodman and Interim Clerk of Court Harold Bazzel gave candidates a piece of advice regarding what many consider to be one of the new design's most desired aspects.
"Anything of historical value you can implement stylistically, or by salvaging parts of the old courthouse and reusing them in a neat way, would be appreciated by both the board and the citizens," said Goodman. "Nobody likes change, but that building isn't old; it's sick," said Bazzel. "We want to incorporate the old in with the new, and I think we can do that beautifully."