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Petitions To Determine Fate Of Brown County Courthouse

Some Brown County residents aren't sold on the idea of spending taxpayer money to renovate the historic courthouse in Nashville.

The Brown County Commissioners want to renovate the historic courthouse in Nashville, but some taxpayers have started a petition and remonstrance drive to stall construction, citing cost concerns.

Photo: J. Stephen Conn (Flickr)

The Brown County Commissioners want to renovate the historic courthouse in Nashville, but some taxpayers have started a petition and remonstrance drive to stall construction, citing cost concerns.

Brown County tax-payers are taking issue with plans for a multi-million dollar renovation of the historic court house in Nashville. Opposing sides are gearing up for a kind of competition–to collect the most signatures for or against the project.

The $4 million project would renovate the courthouse to make it safer and compliant with accessibility guidelines. It would also include building additional office space.

But, a group of Brown County residents initiated a petition earlier this spring, arguing the process was not transparent because there was no bidding process for the project’s architect.

“I think there was not adequate opportunity for the public to ask questions and get answers about the various issues in adding on to the courthouse.”

The League of Women Voters hosted public forum Thursday at the Brown County High School to give residents a chance to ask those questions.

A kind of competition was also announced.

League of Women Voters President Julie Winn says phase one of the remonstrance was completed when more than 200 taxpayer signatures were gathered to put a temporary hold on the project. The next phase begins Aug. 9.

“There will be two documents,” says Winn. “People can sign a petition, which now means they’re in favor of the project going ahead now, as is, or a remonstrance, which means they’re opposed to it.”

If more residents sign the petition against it, the county commission the courthouse project would be put on hold for at least a year while the commission looks for alternative options. If more sign the petition for it, the project could move forward.

County Commissioner Joe Wray says residents have had ample time to learn about the renovation and says capital spending projects should not be put to this kind of vote.

“We want as much public input as we can get, but eventually somebody’s got to make a decision,” he says.

Jimmy Jenkins

Jimmy Jenkins is a multimedia journalist for WFIU and WTIU news. A native of Terre Haute, he is a masters student at the Indiana University School of Journalism and is proud to be a part of the public broadcasting stations he listened to and watched since he was a child. Follow him on Twitter @newsjunkyjimmy.

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  • Michael Jeffries

    The design plans are impressive but the concern is that the Brown County Courthouse project will cost $8.5 million (not $4 million) and will triple the size of the building. Many residents would like to see a more open and competitive bidding situation.

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