Kentworthy offer repeated as courthouse plans move ahead
“We made a generous offer. Let's see them step up to the plate, if this building means so much to them.”
Commissioner Karl Wagner
By Charles Reynolds
MILFORD — No protesters were around — but, even so, conversation among the Pike County commissioners once more turned to the controversial courthouse expansion project in Milford.
Commissioner Rich Caridi said the Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Commission has no governance over moving or demolishing historical buildings, as some in the community mistakenly believed. He asked county solicitor Thomas Farley to explain why.
Farley cited a 2005 case, Goldsboro vs. the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Education, in which the courts said that if a building is owned by a political subdivision — like a school district, a municipality, or a county — it does not fall under the commission's authority. Farley said there was a second case that further confirmed the court's ruling.
Commissioner Karl Wagner said the commissioners never intended to demolish the Kentworthy building.
“We made a generous offer,” he said, talking about the offer of two county lots and $40,000 for the move. “Let's see them step up to the plate, if this building means so much to them.”
The offer Wagner referred to had been discussed at numerous meetings and written about in area newspapers, including the Courier. But the members of the Historic Preservation Trust of Pike County at a recent borough council meeting said they didn't know about the offer.
Per their request, the commissioners wrote to Ed Brannon, President of the Trust, once more outlining the “generous offer.”
According to the letter, the county is willing to “convey, at no expense, the building to the Trust.” The offer also provides “$40,000 to the Trust to assist the Trust in relocating the building.” And, lastly, the county agrees to “lease, at no expense, two Milford Borough lots located on Broad St. next to the alley adjacent to the Columns (Museum) to which the building will be moved.”
The letter also mentions a bid from Grimm Construction in the amount of $108,000 to move the building 4,000 feet from its present location. There is also a quote of $28,000 from Orange and Rockland “for removing and replacing wires necessary to accommodate the move.”
The letter says this cost would be “significantly less” because the move would be less than 4,000 feet.
In the letter, the commissioners request a discussion be held by the full Board, the scheduling of a meeting between the Trust and the commissioners within two weeks of receipt of the letter and a decision within 30 days of that meeting to decide if the Trust wishes to take ownership of the Kentworthy Building.
At the previous meeting of the commissioners on April 2, Matthew Ebbert offered up his expertise as an efficiency expert, touting his work with Apple and Microsoft in this area, and said he had designs for a new courthouse that had been looked at by Philadelphia and New York architects. His design, he said, would be smaller, more efficient and less expensive. At that time, Caridi said the commissioners would be more than willing to look at them.
“Nothing has been forthcoming,” said Caridi. “The county intends to move forward...with the plans that we have with municipal leaders.”
The next meeting of the Pike County Commissioners will be held at 9 a.m. on May 7 in the county Administration building in Milford Borough.
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