News 12 at 6 o'clock, May 20, 2008
AUGUSTA, Ga.---Augusta's new Judicial Center is beginning to take shape. "It's coming along. It's coming along," said Judge Carlisle Overstreet. He took a break from the bench and pulled up a seat for a first hand look at his new diggs.
"I think it's gone be great. It will of course make our job more efficient," said Judge Overstreet. Right now there are 2 superior courtrooms with 8 judges...a crunch to say the least. "It's tough. It's tough," said Judge Overstreet. But things will change dramatically if architect Frank Greene has anything to do with it.
"What we do is bring 21st century justice to communities that have a lot of tradition and a lot of history," said Greene. He presented 3 different designs for the 180,000 square foot building. The price tag is 67 million dollars.
"We know that taxpayers have to dig deep to afford these buildings, but it's not an extravagant building by any means." "The challenge for the team is to make a modern functional building that reflects the historic character of the community," said Erick Montgomery with Historic Augusta.
"These are important buildings. They're around a long time. They serve everybody in the community," said Greene.
The new judicial center is expected to clear the way for a larger commission chamber. "Government needs to be open, and part of that is people need to participate, and they need to have a place where they can come and participate," said city administrator Fred Russell.
Talk about maximizing space...as the judges exit their old courtrooms...county commissioners may move in. But first things first. Frank has a little more work to do. "It's a wonderful challenge. It's what makes me get out of bed early every morning." said Frank.
The jury is still out on the final design. They have to decide where to put the statue of lady justice. The city plans to break ground this year and wrap it up by 2010.