Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Plan serves community, preserves history

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Sept. 28, 2013 at 4:28 a.m.

Victoria County is searching for a solution to its need for increased courtroom space. As the economy has grown, the city and county's population and need for courtroom usage has followed suit.

A possible solution the Victoria County Commissioners Court plans to vote on next week is a proposal to renovate and convert the historic firehouse on Forrest Street into more courtroom space and connect it to the county courthouse. This proposal would cost an estimated $2.4 million. The commissioners plan to vote on a proposal to pay for the project using bonds.

The plan to use the historic firehouse to create more courtroom space for our growing county is a brilliant one that fits well with the city of Victoria's efforts to renovate and preserve the downtown area's historic character. The building cannot be torn down, thanks to its designation as a historic structure, but otherwise, it sits empty, taking up space and wasting taxpayer money. By renovating the building and connecting it to the county courthouse, the county will be taking care of two issues at the same time.

The county's plan to expand courtroom space is a smart move that will help better serve Victoria County's needs as the community continues to grow. This is a good chance to repurpose one of the historic buildings near the courthouse, but the old county jail is another structure in need of maintenance and a new purpose. We would love to see these buildings renovated and converted for something useful while still keeping their classic looks. As the county and city continue to grow, we encourage officials to keep these buildings in mind as services are expanded to meet the need for additional space.

The commissioners court must now find a way to pay for the new courtroom space. On Tuesday, the court will meet to discuss and vote on a proposal to take on debt through bond issues and how much is needed. We encourage the commissioners to examine the proposal carefully before deciding how to spend taxpayer money. The plan to renovate the firehouse is a good one that will both preserve a historic building while also expanding space. Always remember, taxpayer funds serve a purpose, but it is the elected official's responsibility to be as frugal as possible.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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