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COUNTY COMMISSION Q&A: Courthouse expansion, sportsplex

In the Republican primary for seats on the Henderson County Board of Commissioners, Sheila Franklin is challenging incumbent Daniel Andreotta for the District 2 seat and Jay Egolf is challenging incumbent David Hill for the District 5 seat. Candidates must live in the district but are elected countywide. Democrat Erik Weber of Fletcher meets the Republican nominee for the District 2 seat in the Nov. 5 general election.

Commissioners have voted to move ahead on a major jail expansion/renovation. Not yet decided is a courthouse expansion/renovation projected to cost $124 million (not including design and “soft costs”). How should the county proceed on the courthouse project in your view?

Franklin: Reorganization and downsizing the original annex proposal would be how to move forward.. To prevent spending tax dollars, we should consider moving some offices and a smaller expansion of existing (nearby) county facilities. Another option would be securing vacant land in the vicinity of the courthouse and building a smaller building to house those offices in need. I would exhaust all possible avenues before considering anything that affects the tax base.

Andreotta: No way on $215 million. But the space need is critical. We should examine a minimalistic 4-5 story administrative building adjacent to the courthouse. This would allow for all non-judiciary staff to vacate the courthouse. Then the courthouse could be renovated for all court-related activities, giving the DA and others the much needed space. The jail is currently being addressed at the lowest cost possible. I believe we can do all that is needed with room for growth and save as much as $100 million plus interest.

Hill: As our population grows, the Courthouse expansion/renovation is needed to serve our citizens in a timely manner. However, I believe there are ways the cost could be reduced. As commissioners, we are stewards of the taxpayers’ money and must spend that money conservatively. I support investigating a renovation of the existing 1995 Courthouse and building a new office building for some county departments. Departments that support the courts, such as the Clerk of Superior Court, would remain in the renovated courthouse. A renovation would utilize the existing structure, save the county significant costs, and provide for necessary upgrades and expansions.

Egolf: County commissioners need to be fiscally responsible with taxpayers’ dollars. I think more homework needs to be done on this issue. There are other options? Have we fully examined them?

Commissioners appropriated $2 million in American Rescue Plan money for a new sportsplex. What is your view of that? Where in the county should it be located? What should it contain?


Andreotta: Recreation unites everyone, as well as promoting a healthier community. There is incredible demand for soccer and other sports facilities. We need to have room for 3-4 fields right away along with space to scale up over time. We also could use more pickleball courts in the near future. We are looking at multiple options to accomplish these goals, and it is very exciting.

Franklin: Receiving American Rescue Plan funds is a two edged sword. We all know that citizens pay in the end when money is handed down from federal funds. It does however, give us the ability to do something great for our area that otherwise might not happen. Our soccer community is larger than most of us realize and they are in need of a place. This type of complex should be centrally located, allowing for easy access by many. It is a long awaited need that has not been met.

Egolf: I’m OK with this. It should be centrally located and I’d love to be a part of finding possible locations. I also know the School Board is looking for a partnership on land it already owns. If this partnership was with the Board of Commissioners, for example, full-length soccer fields could be built there allowing other sports access to the sportsplex. I would get public input on additional sports fields.

Hill: I support the sportsplex – it is a positive use of ARP funds. Parks and recreation facilities are vital to our county and provide many benefits to citizens. The sportsplex should be a place where people of all ages and abilities can participate in sports and healthy activities. I would like to see the sportsplex centrally located, preferably near a major thoroughfare, so citizens have easy access to the amenities provided. The sportsplex could contain soccer fields, tennis and pickleball courts, a walking path and baseball/softball fields. I believe the sportsplex will bring social and economic benefits to the county.