New Santa Rosa County courthouse: 'This will change the face of Avalon'

By Jody Conrad | Special to the Press Gazette

Santa Rosa County Commission Chairman Dave Piech is excited about the progress of the county’s new courthouse.

“We are 70 percent done at the moment and we’re on track to open in January of 2022, and move in later in June,” Piech said.

BOCC Chairman Dave Piech discusses the progress made on the construction of the new courthouse building while touring the site.

The building has now been weathered in, and interior work is moving along.

Piech talked about why this project is long-overdue and will be an upgrade.

“I remember being chosen for jury duty as a young man, and upon entering the courtroom, the judge handed blankets to each of us. That was years ago,” he laughed. “And it has gotten progressively worse since then!”

Piech said the new building includes updated plans for security, like private access from offices to courtrooms for judges. 

“We’ve been working closely with the sheriff’s department to design top-notch security methods," Piech said. "Also, our county maintenance department has been involved with the planning and training on new systems.”

This is an aerial view of the front of the new courthouse building facing Avalon Boulevard.

According to Piech, “It has been a well-thought out and designed project from the very beginning. We’ve only needed to make minor tweaks here and there; plus the site itself has been designed for future expansion.”

County residents will be glad to hear that the BOCC has worked diligently to save tax payer dollars. Piech said that they’ve been able to save $580,000 in sales tax by using the county’s tax exempt status to purchase equipment that contractors would normally buy.

“We were also able to refinance the construction loan, which will save taxpayers an additional $2 million,” Piech said.

“We’ve been actively involved in this whole process,” he added. “I’ve been involved, along with many others, as ‘value engineers,’ where the designers present prices, and those of us in this capacity find ways to save money by modifying the choices.”

One of things that he is most excited about is a video of the construction process for teachers to use in classrooms.

“It should generate interest and ownership in our youngest Santa Rosians,” Piech said.

A technician completes HVAC work the new Santa Rosa County courthouse building under construction.

The county has been working on plans to build a new courthouse for over 20 years.

“This new courthouse is going to change the face of Avalon Boulevard,” Piech said. ”I imagine we will see new restaurants, offices, and businesses springing up, which will be an economic boon for this area. Not only that, but this building will be a show piece for the county.”