Let’s build a courthouse!

Posted on February 19, 2016 by Sharon Glass

A few weeks ago I took a journey down the dark catacombs (halls) of the second floor of the Santa Rosa County Courthouse…destination courtroom 213. Yes, I did say “dark catacombs” because that is what they reminded me of. The definition of a catacomb is…“an underground cemetery consisting of passages or tunnels with rooms and recesses used as burial chambers leading off them.” I love antiques, and even love exploring old dark buildings, but not while I’m doing business. As I took the many turns to the courtroom, I was surprised at how dark the halls were, oh, there were lights, but they gave off very little light. As I stood outside of the courtroom, I thought, “We do need a new courthouse!” I entered the courtroom, and saw a large group of male inmates in the seats on one side of the room, and on the other side the public was seated with only a narrow aisle separating them. I thought how easy it would be for a prisoner to get up, take a step or two (even with the chains on their ankles), and grab a person. A tragedy could unfold that none of would ever want to see.
I feel better now because I believe that things are moving toward us getting a new courthouse. I think I see a light at the end of the tunnel. In 2014 the majority of active voters voted for the downtown location, and the majority of County Commissioners has accepted the will of the people. So we have a location! There is concern for some potential wetland issues so the commissioners are being sure that is taken care of by proper evaluation. None of us want to endanger our wetlands. On Feb. 3rd I read an article that the City of Milton (who has been very cooperative in all areas) stated that they are willing to purchase even more downtown property if the wetlands are an issue. The City of Milton Planning Director’s opinion is that if they do certain things such as purchase other property and make some changes in plans for a retention pond that “it would not impact wetlands in any way, shape, or form and have more than adequate parking.” Sounds like a backup plan to me!
Now, all the county commissioners have to do is back off the plan for a 10 year, one cent sales tax, to build the courthouse, and solve other financial needs. I believe that if they come up with a one cent sales tax that has a beginning and an end date (just the way the jail was built), and if they make the tax usage only for the courthouse, then maybe in a few years we will have a new courthouse. A place where there are no dark catacomb hallways, a place where citizens and employees can feel secure.
So, let’s build a courthouse, what do you say?