The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Council looking at court renovations
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY
The Fredericksburg City Council saw two vastly different options in a work session Tuesday night for the renovation of the General District Court, but took no action.
One option, which would cost $4.8 million, would entail major renovations to the court but make it suitable for the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court to relocate there, which was part of the original plan the council approved last year.
The second option, which would cost $2 million less, would essentially just upgrade the building’s HVAC and electrical systems and leave much of it unchanged.
Bill Downey, of Downey & Scott LLC, the construction management team, and Jay Moore, part of the design-build team of First Choice Public–Private Partners, presented the two options and their implications.
Some council members wanted to introduce a third option—leaving the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in the interim facility in Executive Plaza.
The point of the alternative options—from some council members’ points of view—was to find savings to go toward the renovation of the Renwick Building, where the Circuit Court is.
However, in a life-cycle cost study presented by Charles McDuff, part of the Downey & Scott team, the council learned that if they selected the lower-cost option, it would cost the city essentially $9 million more in the long run.
“While there is an initial cost savings of $2 million to go with the reduced scope of renovation, the various costs of ownership are offset dramatically by added costs,” the report says.
The council will continue its discussion on the General District Court renovation, but Downey asked the council to attempt to make a decision by November.
In the council’s meeting, which followed the work session, there were five public hearings in regard to the zoning and construction of the new courthouse.
The hearings were about constructing the courthouse, adding a vehicle curb, making the parking off-site, having a higher floor-area ratio, and allowing the building to be taller than what is allowed.
The council did not vote, but will likely vote at its next meeting on Sept. 18.
City Attorney Kathleen Dooley also said she would prepare some kind of formal agreement that would illustrate the council’s commitment to resolving lingering issues with the project, such as the Renwick Building renovation and the downtown parking issue.
The council held public hearings on downtown rezoning and approved ordinances that would change properties around the train station from commercial transitional to commercial downtown, expand the downtown parking district and amend the boundaries of the railroad station overlay zoning district.
All three votes were 5–0. Councilman Fred Howe was absent from both the work session and the meeting, and Councilwoman Bea Paolucci abstained because a family member has property in the affected area.
Ordinances allowing the raising of chickens and bees in the city were approved by the council on second reading. The vote was 6–0.
In another matter, Charles McDaniel presented a report about dredging the Rappahannock River.
Robyn Sidersky: 540/374-5413