Updated: Public Sounds Off on Hall County Courthouse Project


The public got a chance to sound off on the Hall County Courthouse project in the first of two meetings Tuesday.

It's a project county supervisors say can't wait -- mostly because of the uncertainty surrounding this historic courthouse's pipes.
"They could go tonight. They could last five years," said Bob McFarland, Hall County Board of Supervisors chair.
However, the small group that gathered for Tuesday's meeting said they'd rather spend the time and cash to build a new courthouse near the jail on the east end of Grand Island.
"We'll report back to the county board, but i don't know how far it will go," McFarland said in response to that proposal.
He says that's because it would require a bond, which the board believes would fail if put up against a proposed Grand Island Public Schools bond. It would also take more time, something McFarland says the project doesn't have. Mcfarland "If we don't do something soon and get back to the architects so they can get started, we're going to lose the year 2015 as a construction year," explained McFarland.

McFarland says he wants the public to know what a complex project the courthouse is, but the split board also wants the public's input on how to move forward.
"There are seven people on the county board and there are probably at least five different thoughts of what we should do," he said.
The state historical society is also weighing in. Representatives toured the courthouse Tuesday and say they're against moving it from downtown.
"It was designed to be in the downtown. I think it's really, really important that they consider the businesses that are in the downtown," said Lissa Schwab with the historical society.

Schwad saysSchwabtter what the county decides, the original building needs to be preserved.
"It truly is out of all the county court houses, it's probably the most grand. It's architecturally stunning," she said.
A second public meeting will be held June 3 at 6 p.m. at Grand Island City Hall.