10:29pm

Tue August 19, 2014
Lexington/Richmond

Lexington Officials Weigh Future of City's Historic Old Courthouse

Credit flickr.com

    

Final decisions about what to do with Fayette County's former courthouse building could come by the end of the year. 

In the meantime, repairs are needed just to ensure the integrity of the historic structure and the area around it.

It's been more than a decade since court was held in the grey stoned three story building in the center of downtown Lexington.  After serving as the site for the Lexington History Museum, concerns about lead paint forced the city to close the building in 2012.  Council members Tuesday saw pictures of corrosion in the supports of the old courthouse basement. Council member Jennifer Scutchfield believes something should have been done before now.  "If I have a hole in my roof at my house, I don't spend 18 months to figure out how to fix it.  I feel like we're kind of spinning our wheels on this.  We're gonna lose this building, if we're not careful," said Scutchfield.

The council is expecting a report by the end of the year on renovation options and cost estimates.  Vice Mayor Linda Gorton says hard decisions will have to be made.  "Do we close it down and mothball it? Do we make it useable for just a basic some kind of basic use, or do we tailor it for more specialized use?" asked Gorton.

Downtown Development Authority President Jeff Fugate addressed city council Tuesday.  Fugate says most of the financial obligation for improvements rests with the city.  "You know there may be an opportunity for private involvement.  It's not gonna be the whole answer.   This is the public's building.  It's been the public's building since 1890's when this one was built.  It's been the public square since 1799 when the city was platted out," said Fugate.

Fugate says the old downtown courthouse is the last of Lexington's public buildings from the 19thcentury. He says it would be a shame to lose it.  

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