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Historical society to discuss York courthouse

The Yorkville Historical Society will host a community meeting on Thursday, Oct. 30 to discuss the York County Courthouse.

Gary Gross, vice president of the group and chairman of the program committee, said a group of community leaders will talk about the issue.

The leaders are York Mayor Eddie Lee; Paul Boger, executive director of the Greater York Chamber of Commerce; York City Council member John Shiflet, chair of the city’s economic development committee; and Mary Ellen Connelly, a member of the historical society.

The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the McCelvey Center auditorium.

Gross said the purpose of the meeting “is to let people know the current status of our effort to save the courthouse and to gather the public’s comments on where we need to go from here.”

Gross said he sees the preservation of the courthouse as a functioning court building as “probably one of the most important things for the city of York in 50 or 100 years.”

The York County Council has been discussing the future of the courthouse because of the escalating cost of finishing a planned renovation that began in 2013.

The York City Council, representatives from the historical society and other residents have asked the council to preserve the century-old courthouse because of its historical value and its economic importance to downtown York.

York County put aside $5.3 million to pay for renovations that would allow the building to continue holding court proceedings and housing government offices in the 21st century. But architectural estimates have put the cost closer to $11.2 million, leaving the project’s completion up in the air.

Of the budget, $1.5 million has already been spent removing plaster, lead-based paint and asbestos from the building’s interior.

County officials have said they are looking for alternative funding to complete the project.

Plans still call for Clerk of Court David Hamilton, the county probate judge and the master of equity to be the main occupants of the renovated courthouse, along with the Common Pleas judges presiding in the building’s main courtroom and two smaller courtrooms.

While the project is in limbo, however, the courthouse is vacant and the county is spending about $11,000 per month in rent for the displaced county employees.