Originally created 03/16/04

The next best thing

When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there.

That maxim pretty much gets you driving directions to the site of the future Augusta Judicial Center.

Augusta has no master plan, at least none that is put to any use. And that is why the Augusta Commission has flirted with or decided on - what, half a dozen sites? - for the county's new courthouse.

The latest one, at Walker and Ninth streets, is so environmentally questionable that one site study costing $4,000 has only led to a proposal for another study costing $15,000. What that could lead to is even more study - and, perhaps, hundreds of thousands, or millions, in cleanup costs.

On Friday, the Judicial Center Subcommittee voted to abandon plans for the Walker and Ninth site and pursue the fallback position of putting the new courthouse at the current Municipal Building site, 530 Greene St.

Next to no one thinks it's the best place. But no "best place" has stood out in the half-dozen years or so this debate has been going on. The 530 Greene location is simply safer than most.

There's less of a likelihood, for instance, that the commission will be pouring money down a toxic rathole.

"Even though I don't say it's the best location," Superior Court Chief Judge William M. Fleming Jr. told the subcommittee, "it's 100 percent better than (the Walker and Ninth streets site)."

He appears to be right.

Folks, we've been looking for the perfect spot for this building for years. It isn't there.

Let's do the next-best thing.

But let's get it done.


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