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Architects to study addition to Pa. court annex

May 14, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Franklin County Board of Commissioners has engaged an architectural firm to look at the possibility of a 20,000-square-foot addition to the courthouse annex.

"We're serious about the concept. Serious enough to engage an architect," Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said Tuesday. On April 29, the board approved an agreement with Noelker and Hull Associates Inc. of Chambersburg to perform the study.

If the plan moves forward, the addition would be built onto the east end of the annex at 157 Lincoln Way East.

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In February 2003, the county bought a three-story building at 173 Lincoln Way East, part of which had been used as a law office. Elliott said that property would be used as the site of an addition.

"This is still the investigative portion of it," County Administrator John Hart said of the study.

The study will look at how much an addition would cost, whether there is sufficient parking and if the space is suitable, Elliott said.

The county has to determine if it is practical to increase its presence in Chambersburg's downtown, according to Elliott. "In a global sense, to us, we think it does," he said.

The addition would allow for consolidation of court-related offices into the annex and the addition, Elliott said.

"The thought is to have the annex as the judicial center," he said. Administrative offices would be consolidated at the Administrative Annex at 218 N. Second St. and all human services offices would be on Franklin Farm Lane where most of them are now housed.

The courthouse annex, built in 1979 and attached by an elevated walkway to the old courthouse, is undergoing renovations on the second floor where the former board of commissioners offices are being converted into a fourth courtroom.

The commissioners earlier this year moved their suite of offices to the former M&T Bank offices on the first floor of 14 N. Main St. That lease is for three years with an option to renew, but Elliott said "the ultimate plan would be to have us at the administrative services center on Second Street."

That building now houses the county's Area Agency on Aging, Controller's Office, Planning Office, Domestic Relations, the office of District Justice Gary Carter and the Chambersburg Senior Activities Center.

The federal Farm Service Agency, and some other agriculture-related offices that were in the administrative annex, moved to leased space outside of Chambersburg last year.

The county plans to renovate its three-story stone Building 2 on Franklin Farm Lane as part of an agricultural services center. The commissioners opened bids on that project last week.

The purchasing, computer and fiscal operations at Building 2 will be moved to either the administrative annex or the commissioners' new office suite, according to the plan.

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