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York County Courthouse renovation plans move forward

Preserving the York County Courthouse’s historic integrity will be a top priority during renovations, an official with the company managing the project says.

Jim Britton, vice president and program director with Cumming Construction Management, said the design development is underway. The county expects to hire a contractor for the project this summer, he said, and work is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2016.

“It’s a historic courthouse, so you want to do the least damage,” Britton said. “We’re doing our due diligence on the type of systems that would do the least damage. You want to keep the flavor of the courthouse as original as possible.”

Britton expects the electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems to be replaced. The project also involves installing two elevators to make the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Courthouse windows are another question, he said. No decision has been made about whether to replace the existing windows or refurbish them, and he expects contractors to submit bids with both options.

Members of the Yorkville Historical Society, who rose to the defense of the courthouse last year, have been included in presentations about the plans, Britton said.

“There is a lot of passion about this, and there should be,” he said. “It’s an important project. When this thing is finished, it’s going to be something we’re all going to be proud of.”

Gary Gross, vice president of the historical society and a retired contractor who lives in a historic home, said he was pleased so far with what appears to be efforts to “preserve the building in its existing historical profile.”

Renovations plans are being designed by Stewart-Cooper-Newell Architects of Gastonia, N.C.

The York County Council last year agreed to proceed with the courthouse renovation after weeks of debate about the cost that attracted historic preservationists to its defense. Last week, the council voted to more than double the amount of money budgeted to pay for finishing the work.

On top of the $4.17 million for courthouse work in the 2014-15 county budget, the council added $4.9 million, bringing the total money budgeted to renovate the courthouse to almost $9.1 million – enough to meet the most recent estimated price tag for completing the long-delayed project.

The majority of the new money comes from an abandoned plan for work on a county recycling center. The entire $4.659 million budgeted for that project, which also has faced delays, now will be used to complete work on the courthouse.

Finishing work on the recycling center will hopefully be included as part of the county’s upcoming facilities plan, County Manager Bill Shanahan said.

The rest of the new money will come out of leftover funds from the 1997 Pennies for Progress road-paving program.

“That money was loaned to Pennies for Progress from the county general fund, and since it was left in there, it’s now being returned,” County Treasurer Beth Latham said.

In November, Cumming reviewed the courthouse project and estimated that completing the renovations would cost $9.1 million, down from an earlier estimate of $11 million from another consultant.

Bristow Marchant contributed.