Members of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors said this past week that they’d like to see some movement soon on the relocation of the magistrate’s office, the construction of a new fleet maintenance facility and a new park in the Shawsville area.
Resolutions for those projects are expected to be added to the agenda of the board’s July 22 meeting, according to an email from county spokeswoman Jennifer Harris.
The trio of projects, estimated by the county to cost approximately $7.5 million, are among the latest capital improvements that supervisors said need to be prioritized.
One of the capital projects that has long been debated is a proposal to find a new home for the office of the magistrate.
It is currently located in a county-rented building on South Franklin Street in Christiansburg.
The location of the magistrate’s office has drawn concerns over the years due to the fact that the venue is not in or next to the jail — like it is in Roanoke and many other localities.
Among other functions, the magistrate’s office is where the initial decision is made to either set bail for an arrestee or require them to wait behind bars for their court date. Some county officials, including Sheriff Hank Partin, have voiced concerns about the location raising the possibility of incidents such as arresting officer ambushes and prisoner escapes.
One solution that’s been discussed is a proposal to move the magistrates to the old sheriff’s office building just off the corner of South Franklin and East Main Street — and a few parking spaces away from the jail.
The project supervisors discussed this past week would move the magistrates to the former sheriff’s building, but there has been debate about whether the county should in fact keep the old law enforcement structure.
Renovating the old sheriff’s building would cost approximately $1.3 million, according to figures presented this week by engineering consultant Thompson and Litton. On the other hand, a demolition and construction of a new building in the place of the old sheriff’s office would cost $1.9 million.
Even though the renovation costs less, a new building would require less intensive maintenance, County Administrator Craig Meadows told supervisors.
A renovation also wouldn’t allow for additional parking, according to plans.
Most supervisors this past week voiced preference for demolishing the old sheriff’s building and replacing it with a new structure for the magistrates.
Among the few supervisors still unsure about whether or not to save the old sheriff’s building is Chris Tuck.
“I understand where they’re coming from, but there’s a part of me that would like to preserve history any way I can,” he said. “I’ve got to think about it. My gut feeling is we preserve it, we save $500,000.”
With a new facility, the magistrate’s office would share space with court services, which is currently located in a building on the corner of Radford Road and Depot Street.
The court services building houses functions such as the filing of child support and spousal support paperwork. The building also involves juvenile probation work.
The garage and maintenance facility and the Shawsville area park — the other two projects supervisors are currently prioritizing — would cost $3 million and $2.5 million, respectively.
The garage and maintenance facility is slated to be located behind the County Government Center on Roanoke Street and would neighbor Christiansburg’s Kiwanis Park.
The garage and maintenance facility would provide space for work on county vehicles.
The Shawsville park, to be named in honor of former Supervisor Gary Creed, is slated to be located on roughly 6 acres of land that was previously occupied by the old Shawsville Elementary School.
The park will be comprised of an existing baseball and softball field, but will also bring in two new softball and baseball fields and one multi-purpose field.
County officials also plan to eventually add a $6.7 million park in Riner, but supervisors this week voiced preference for completing the Shawsville project first due to costs.
“We got money for Shawsville, so it makes sense to go ahead and do that,” said supervisors’ Chairman Todd King, whose district covers Riner.
King said he’s not too worried about the Shawsville park taking precedence over the Riner one due to his expectation that it won’t take long for the latter project to be kicked off. King, however, told supervisors this week that he’d like to see a new rescue facility in Shawsville, which isn’t in his district.
Funding for the garage and maintenance facility and the magistrates project is expected to come from a combination of capital project funds, a new capital earmark and a windfall resulting from the recent four-year reassessment.
The reassessment determines the value of every taxable parcel in the locality. An increase in the reassessment results in higher property tax bills, even if supervisors don’t raise the tax rate. Funding for the Shawsville park is expected to come from the remaining reassessment windfall, some debt service savings, leftover budget money and an existing park fund.