Which Way For County Courthouse Design?
MILFORD — It’s hard to tell in which direction county commissioners are heading vis-à-vis the explosive issue of the Pike County Courthouse annex. At one point in last week’s commissioners meeting, they seemed to be telling the phalanx of courthouse protesters who packed the room that they were barking up the wrong tree complaining about the courthouse annex’s possible impact on borough property values.
The real arbiters of such concerns are the Milford Borough Council and the borough’s Architectural Review Board, and opponents of the county design should take their concerns there, Commissioner Karl Wagner said, adding that the county is going before the ARB on July 28.
“By law, we have to go the ARB first… and ARB will make its recommendation to the Milford Borough Council, and the Borough Council will make its decision, and they are the ones who, more than us, represent the residents of Milford Borough,” Wagner said, adding that the county would have to deal with that, whether by changing its design or possible legal recourse.
Later in the meeting, Wagner’s remark about “changing our design” took on new meaning when Osterberg told the audience that he would consider having the county engineer look at the latest alternative to erecting the annex on the lot of a torn-down Kenworthey House: building an entirely new court complex on Bennett Avenue, a half-mile from the current location on Broad Street, at the northeastern most border of the borough. Under that plan, first floated by Sean Strub, one of the original protesters of the county plan, the historic courthouse would become a ceremonial venue or tourist attraction of some kind, while possibly continuing to house parts of county government. Proponents of the Bennett site also say new site construction there would proceed in an uncongested area.
Later in the week, Wagner said that there were environmental issues with the Bennett Avenue site, which has housed two or three PennDOT truck garages, complete with underground fuel storage tanks, for decades. Wagner said environmental studies would have to be done before the county even finalizes its contract to swap land in Blooming Grove for the Milford site... for complete story, get this week's issue.