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City discusses court proposals in closed session
Council members were split over whether to discuss the controversial issue in public or private.


Date published: 4/13/2011

The Fredericksburg City Council last night was split over going into a closed session to discuss a consultant’s report on the proposed courthouse project but nonetheless voted to do so.

Council members Fred Howe III, Brad Ellis and Beatrice Paolucci voted against going into closed session to discuss proposals from five firms, each saying that the process thus far has been open, including cost estimates of the work.

“This document is a taxpayer-paid-for document,” Howe said. “At the end of the day, this is a public process.”

Mayor Thomas Tomzak and council members Mary Greenlaw, Kerry Devine and George Solley voted to go into closed session, citing confidentiality and the desire for the city to retain a competitive balance in the bid process.

Tomzak said the process thus far “has been highly politicized.”

For years the issue of building a new courthouse complex has been floated around, and the city has been pushed by judges who say Fredericksburg needs a more modern facility that meets security needs and can accommodate growing caseloads.

The five firms presented their proposals to the council in March. The report on the proposals was compiled by Arcadis.


THE PROPOSALS

The five firms have proposed various projects for the proposed courthouse project, which could cost between $35 million and $40 million, making it the most expensive undertaking in the city’s history.

Hensel Phelps

Proposed new courthouse location: Executive Plaza, which would involve tearing down existing building and building a new one
Cost: $40 million
Timeframe: 25 months (July 2013)

FirstChoice

Proposed locations (two): Princess Anne Street next to City Hall, or current fire station location. The Princess Anne location would see renovation of existing General District court building to house Juvenile and Domestic Relations, while General District and Circuit courts move into a new building.

Cost: $36 million

Time: 30 months

The fire station location would also move General District and Circuit courts into a new building, but it would take longer because a new fire station would first have to be built. FirstChoice proposes to build a new fire station on Amelia St.

Cost: $41 million

Time: 36 months

Clancy and Theys

Proposed location: current fire station, moving fire station to old regional jail site.

Cost: About $31 million, not including firehouse construction, estimated at about $5 million to $6 million

Time: 33 months

W.M. Jordan

Proposed location: Princess Anne Street, two buildings

Cost: $32.6 million, including money for temporary relocation of courts

Time: 31 months

Donley’s

Proposed locations: Fire station, Executive Plaza or Sophia Street

Time: 36 months for Sophia Street, 37 months for the Executive Plaza, 44 months for the fire station

Cost: About $34 million