The 5-story courthouse was built in the early 1940s and is centrally located in the heart of Charles City and Floyd County. It is a beautiful, well-built structure with exterior brick and polished granite and even more remarkable interior with marble walls, terrazzo floors and brass stair rails. It stands as an icon symbolizing strength and pride of the people in this County and is an ideal location where it stands. In August 2003, the courthouse was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
According to two different energy studies, the courthouse ranked 86 and 93 out of 100. Data collected on these studies is based on gas and electric usage only over multi-year periods ending in 2013 and 2008 respectively. Although these rating are good ratings, the studies do not take into consideration all costs, such as boiler maintenance and replacing air conditioners, and the variations of outputs on the five floors of the courthouse.
Many in the courthouse would likely comment that the system falls short of an ideal heating/cooling system to accommodate a comfortable working environment. Often in the winter, the steam boiler system puts out too much heat in some offices and not enough in others, especially if a cool breeze is blowing on one side of the building. In summer months, it is hard to keep rooms sufficiently cooled with not only outside heat but heat coming from equipment, lights, and groups of people.
Over 55 air conditioners rest on windows of the courthouse. Each unit is encased in a plastic infill panel fitted for the window. The 110 and 220 volt air conditioner units are not only inefficient but each time a unit needs replaced, the plastic panel often does not accommodate the size of the new unit. The replacement panel costs almost as much as the air conditioner unit and the panel itself is an inefficient product as a window insert.
2005-2017 Courthouse Improvements
As with any building, maintenance is necessary. The county has been diligent in maintaining a sound exterior structure and has made numerous update inside the building as well.
Exterior work over the years includes a major brick replacement project on all four sides of the top portion of the building which required replacing exterior and up to two interior layers of water-damaged brick due the shrinking rubber-roof membrane, tuck-pointing, replacing cracked foundation blocks, and a roof replacement project.
Interior work includes overhauling much of the electrical wiring, adding Cat-5 or Cat-6 cable to meet the demands of internet connection, a extensive security camera upgrade, replacing the fire and smoke alarm system, updating panic alarms, installing a secure door access system, replacing carpet in all rooms, LED lighting throughout the courthouse, remodeling rooms such as the Magistrate Court Room and Assembly Room, converting a conference room to a small court room, and updating the phone system to a VOIP phone system shared by state and county offices as well as connecting to the DHS and Hospice/Public Health buildings.
Other projects includes replacing water and sewer lines connected to the street, adding "FLOYD" to the top of the courthouse in letters resembling the original 1941 design, being the recipient of a city grant to connect fiber to most government buildings, and welcoming the Veterans Memorial on the Main Street side of the courthouse.
After the 2008 floods and an economic down-slide, grant opportunities opened up for job creation and energy/environmental-friendly projects. The county applied for several grants to make courthouse improvements but were unsuccessful, being denied due to our projects being considered as "maintenance" and not qualifying because of our good Energy Star Rating.
Like the existing jail being grandfathered, the elevator has been grandfathered as well. The size of the car does not meet today's standards. There is no room to expand the size of the car in the existing elevator shaft.
Due to a security issue in 2010 and subsequently the Board of Supervisors closing all but the north entrance to the public, consideration was given to remedy our impending elevator issue and making a more inviting public entrance. For various reasons, this renovation never came to fruition.
Other concerns with the elevator are sharing this common area with inmates and the public. Inmates can be disruptive and should be sight and sound separated from the public.
The Garage/Sally Port
The garage is used for multiple purposes. It is sometimes used by law enforcement as a sally port to transport inmates from vehicles to the fourth floor jail. It is storage for the lawnmower, snowblower, yard tools, gasoline, etc, which are all adversary for an unruly inmate situation. It houses the generator used as a backup power source for all of the courthouse.
For law enforcement, the garage doors are narrow, requiring mirrors to be folded in to avoid hitting the structure upon entry or exit with a vehicle. Once inside the garage, there is limited space for getting in/out of vehicles and maneuvering around other items stored in the garage. The walk-in door to the garage enters in to the ground floor pubic corridor where inmates are taken by the public elevator to the fourth floor jail. All posing the potential for property damage and safety risks to officers, the public and inmates.
Cost to Build New
According to www.bdcnetwork.com in March 2009, RSMeans provided a comparison of 2-3 story courthouses recently built with costs ranging from $159.76 to $265.32 per square foot. Using these numbers at that time, it would cost Floyd County approximately $6.64 to $10.69 million to build a new courthouse and much more if similar granite work, marble walls, and terrazzo floors were included. Eight years later, Prochaska Architects estimated building a new courthouse with a law enforcement center would cost $22-23 million, excluding the cost of property acquisition and demo of the existing courthouse.
Some may say that we should just tear down the courthouse and start over. We believe the courthouse is a solid, well built structure worthy of investing in the proposed plans to update the heating/cooling system, replace the current aluminum double pane windows with a more optimum R-value window, become compliant with elevators and restrooms and remodel certain rooms in order to connect the proposed law enforcement center to the courthouse.