Proposal To Build New Courthouse Meets Strong Opposition - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/20/07- Henderson County

Proposal To Build New Courthouse Meets Strong Opposition

It's a difficult issue many Texas cities have had to deal with. Hundreds of Henderson county residents are trying to put a stop to a proposal, that would build a new courthouse away from the historic downtown square in Athens.

Henderson county officials held a special meeting on the issue Tuesday. The majority of residents oppose the plan to buy 44 acres off Loop 7 and build new county facilities.

The courthouse in downtown Athens is nearly 100-years old. Residents said it's the heart and soul of their community, and they worry moving county facilities would kill downtown business.

Many want old buildings in the square to be used by the county instead, but some say that won't work either.

"Do we take some old buildings that people have moved out of because number one, it didn't meet their needs. Number two --  they're dilapidated. And number three -- it's going to take money to clear them out," said Joe Hall, Henderson County Commissioner. 

"More than anything a county courthouse symbolizes community spirit, governmental functions, and the growth of that community around that center point," said Stanley Graves with the Texas Historical Commission.  "That's why it's so important to preserve it for your economical future."

Many are calling for the county to do more research on the economic impact of this move. Henderson county commissioners will make a decision next Tuesday.

Courtney Lane, Reporting.

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