December 24, 2013 —
County officials on December 19 made another effort to end the criticism of the county’s plans to demolish a historic building on Broad Street and Peach Alley for the construction of an addition to the county courthouse.
Critics have complained that the house adjoining the courthouse that currently houses court offices should be saved, and that the adjoining land occupied by the Keystone Office Building on the High Street side should be acquired instead.
Last Thursday, Commissioner Matt Osterberg recalled the November 6 discussion of opposition to the annex plan and provided numbers from the engineering report to correct numbers given in the earlier discussion. The number then was $1.2 million
Osterberg said specifically that the February report lists $1.328 million in additional costs of moving the court functions into a High Street office. “We knew the numbers in the engineering report.”
In part, they included a $490,000 difference in appraised value of the two properties, $500,000 to relocate Verizon fiber-optic lines, $98,000 to move power lines and $240,000 to remodel the existing courthouse lobby. “And that doesn’t include moving Blue Ridge service or gas lines,” he added.
All told, he said, the correct number for extra costs would have come to $1.4 million. “If we could save the building, we would. But it’s not worth $1.4 million.”
As it was not a county cost, the former borough council president did not include the loss to the borough’s limited tax base.
Other projects have been delayed in the review of the borough’s architectural review board (ARB), but ARB, which is responsible for changes to structures in the local historic district, did not object to the annex project.
The commissioners have also offered to make a grant of the projected demolition costs of the existing office building to anyone willing to relocate it to another site. Osterberg said other historic buildings in Milford have been relocated. “Maybe someone will move it,” he said.
In other business, commissioners’ chair Rich Caridi noted that the county’s pension fund “is whole and has been whole as compared to many other municipalities.”
Many such funds suffered losses from investments during the recession.
Separately, regarding health insurance, Caridi commented on “the foolishness going on in DC,” and noted that Pike had made “no changes to any insurances for the county, whatsoever, but simply for the Affordable Care Act we had to find $56,000 for charges, just to stay in compliance.”