Bond vote to address York County building needs

York County Clerk of Court David Hamilton shows the temporary mobile courtroom for Family Court at the Heckle office complex in Rock Hill.
York County Clerk of Court David Hamilton shows the temporary mobile courtroom for Family Court at the Heckle office complex in Rock Hill. aburriss@heraldonline.com

“We never would have done it that way if a new building was in the works.”

That’s how York County’s clerk of court describes the current setup at the Family Court facilities on Heckle Boulevard in Rock Hill.

Clerk David Hamilton says the current offices and courtrooms at the county office complex are not able to meet the offices’ needs, especially the prefabricated double-wide trailer judges use as a mobile courtroom.

That building, along with building needs for other county agencies, will be addressed in plans for a referendum to allow York County to issue almost $90 million in bonds to rehabilitate older buildings and build new facilities where needed, including a new family court center at the Heckle office complex.

The 7-year-old mobile courtroom, which because of its design also poses security problems, “was always supposed to be temporary,” said Hamilton, but has had to wait on the funding to finish the job.

“Why put on a Band-aid when we could get a new building?” Hamilton said.

The York County Council took up the issue Monday when it gave initial approval to a November election date to ask voters’ approval for $89,770,000 worth of projects, including: a new family court building on Heckle Boulevard in Rock Hill, along with other renovations to the county office complex; renovations to the Moss Justice Center in York, including new court and sheriff’s office space; a new recycling center; and improvements to facilities for the Clover and Fort Mill magistrates’ offices.

Law enforcement and court officials in the Moss Justice Center also have found themselves short of space.

“The fact of the matter is we’ve just outgrown it,” said Sheriff Bruce Bryant. “At times I’ve even had to store evidence in a second, undisclosed location.”

Bond money will pay for a new single entry-point to the Moss office complex with enhanced security features, plus additional courtroom space.

The list of projects was drawn up by a facilities study committee put together by the County Council that presented its recommendations earlier this year; but some larger projects have been left off the final list approved Monday.

Earlier, the county was considering two new office complexes: Government Center East in Rock Hill and Government Center West in York. The eastern center would offfer detention facilities for the sheriff’s office to house prisoners after their arrests on the eastern side of the county rather than transport them to the Moss Justice Center in York.

The facilities committee identified the Rock Hill school district office on Anderson Road as a potential site for the detention center. At one point, that facility also would have included moving the Heckle Boulevard courtrooms to the Government Center East.

But that building project is not included in the list the County Council voted on Monday, nor is the West center that will house the county’s new administrative offices and County Council chambers in York.

The committee recommended building a new office building on Arrow Road, but after pressure from York city leaders and the downtown business community, the council later voted to build a new office building on South Congress Street near the current office building.

Bristow Marchant •  803-329-4062