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How it might work

Jackson County commissioners sanctioned a feasibility study on whether a new library would fit on the hill behind the historic courthouse. McMillan Smith and Associates concluded it would work, based on the following rough plan.

• A 20,000-square-foot addition on the back of the historic courthouse, two stories tall, with a footprint of 10,000 square feet. The old jail would be torn down. The addition would be connected to the back of the historic courthouse by an entrance atrium.

• The now-vacant historic courthouse would be renovated to function in tandem with the new library. It would house community meeting rooms and office space for library staff. The historic courtroom would be restored as an auditorium for performances, programs and meetings. Space also would be allocated for the Jackson County Historical Society, Genealogical Society and other cultural heritage groups.

• The addition would cost around $4.5 million for construction and site work. That does not include architect fees or furnishings, including books, computers and furniture for the library.

• The historic courthouse renovation would cost around $2.1 million, not including architect fees or environmental remediation should the removal of asbestos be required, for example.

• Architects scrounged up 125 parking spaces on the courthouse hill, but it requires tearing down the building currently occupied by the Employment Security Commission and converting the vacant lot to parking, and claiming the Jackson Transit shuttle lot for parking as well.

• The addition on the back of the courthouse won’t be visible from the base of the courthouse, if standing at the foot of the steps photographing it for instance. But as you moved further up Main Street, some of the addition could be seen.

• The addition would blend with the look of the historic courthouse without being a perfect replica. Making an addition a perfect match to the original structure is a no-no when working with historic buildings whose integrity should be preserved, said Donny Love, an historic specialist with the architect firm, McMillian Smith and Associates.

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