Darlington officials hold final weigh-in for future of county courthouse

Darlington officials hold final weigh-in for future of county courthouse

DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - The Darlington County Council held the last of five public forums on Thursday night that gave the community the chance to weigh in on the future of the Darlington County Courthouse.

"We did the public forums to simply just to see what the people thought about it and how they perceived our approach to it," David Coker, District 8 county councilman, said.

At Thursday night's meeting, the public listed the pros and cons of building a new courthouse versus renovating the current one.

The pros of renovating the current courthouse include a decrease in cost and upgraded looks. The cons listed were a lack of a temporary location during renovation and mold remediation, among others.

The pros of building a new courthouse included a possibility for a state-of-the-art building, safety and the improvement of employees' health. The cons were the location of the new building, cost and parking among others

Darlington Clerk of Court Scott Suggs said he thinks a new courthouse would be best.

"It just has a lot of aging to it and it's also just kind of outdated in several areas, especially when it comes to security and the courtroom security for the judges and other people that are working in the courtroom," he said.

Financing the project was another topic people weighed in on. The two options were property taxes or the local option of a 1 percent sales tax.

Those who attended Thursday's meeting said since the courthouse plays a crucial role in the county, the public's opinion is necessary.

"It's a very important part of the economic engine of the town, all the ancillary businesses that come up around the courthouse from restaurants to law offices," Lisa Chalian-Rock, who attend Thursday night's meeting, said. "Those are important to the economy of Darlington and so any changes or upgrades are very important to our town."

The Weathers Group, a firm specializing in facilitation, will compile information from all five sessions into one to present to the county council. The governing body will make a decision on what's next for the county courthouse based on the information presented.

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