The DeKalb County Commission Monday night voted to purchase a small lot near the public square as a possible future location for a courthouse annex.
The property, which belonged to Doug Hodges, became available as a result of a bankruptcy finalization stemming from the B. Don James case.
County Mayor Mike Foster says the county will buy the property, about eight tenths of an acre for $125,000 on a three year note. He says the appraised value of the property is more than that amount.
The site, about 200 feet x 150 feet, is located between North Congress Boulevard, East Church Street, First Street, and East Walnut Street.
There are currently no construction plans, but Foster says the county may eventually build an annex on the property and relocate the offices of some public officials there, who are now located in the courthouse. He says lack of adequate courthouse space has been a problem for several years. "The Circuit Court Clerk , Chancery Court Clerk, Register of Deeds, and Trustee especially don't have anywhere to store all the records that they need to keep. The county commission, for four or five years, has been planning to move some of the offices out of the courthouse and probably use all of the third floor and some of the second floor for the courts. The plan I've been hearing is to probably move the Property Assessor, Register of Deeds, and Trustee who are all pretty much interconnected in their work, and try to find another location for them. This would create more room for storing records and more space for the Circuit, Juvenile, and Chancery Courts"
The commission has considered purchasing one of several existing buildings in the downtown area for a courthouse annex, including the old Cumberland Insurance Building, but Foster says those sites present potential problems of their own. "We have been looking at three or four different buildings in town, but the fire at Studio Six last week raised a red flag to us. All of our records need to be in a really save place and probably need to be stored in a building that doesn't join another building because of the danger of fire."
Foster says when this property became available, the county purchasing committee recommended that the county buy it. " It's really well located, near the courthouse and city hall, and has close to 200 feet of frontage on highway 56 (North Congress Boulevard). I think the way the purchasing committee sees it is that we can buy it at a fair price and eventually use it to build a courthouse annex, but even if we don't use it for that we could, down the road, use it for some other purpose."