Compared with the Municipal Building they’ve polished for more than 50 years, the new building is “infinitely more complex,” said Rick Acree, the facilities manager for Augusta-Richmond County.
The extensive ductwork is one example. The Municipal Building has a minimal heating and air system, but the new courthouse can provide different temperatures across the building.
There are also simple things, such as changing lightbulbs and cleaning different surfaces, that required new plans. All told, it’s taken about a year to learn all the nooks and crannies of the 200,000-square-foot building.
“There are millions of components that go into a new building,” Acree said.
The Municipal Building was completed in 1957 as a one-stop shop for all the city’s needs. The “marble palace” even stored food and water in its basement when it doubled as a civil defense shelter during the Cold War. But as it aged, there came a time when maintenance crews had to fabricate new parts for the building that were no longer sold commercially.
“The staff has gotten very good at that,” Acree said.
Outside the new building, a lack of adequate parking was a complaint from the outset and one Richmond County Marshal Steve Smith said he anticipated.
“Until there was some broader plan to handle it, we knew it would be a problem,” said Smith, whose deputy marshals handle door security and monitor the parking lot.
A dirt lot across a train track was eventually converted to a paved parking lot, which seems to have
alleviated the problem, Smith said. Those who park there still have to walk about half a block across the Augusta Canal and railroad tracks to reach the judicial center.
Another issue was the long line of people waiting to get into the building, especially on Monday mornings when residents answer jury summons. Smith said he recently coordinated with Jury Clerk Joan Shackelford and Chief Judge Carlisle Overstreet to allow jurors to come in early.