AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – For the last couple of years the old Law Enforcement Center has been in a tug of war between the courts who wanted it for a Juvenile Justice Center and courtrooms and movie makers who wanted to save the old jail. Now, a commission decision is not making either side happy.
Demolition of the old Law Enforcement Center has been on hold for years, but no longer.
“We just decided the best thing to do was to take 401 out of play completley and go ahead and move forward with the demolition orders,” said Commissioner John Clarke.
After a two hour legal session commissioner voting to halt all remediation at the building and proceed with demolition.
This just four days after Judge Carl Brown issued an order directing commissioners to renovate the old LEC to create more courtrooms.
“With his actions on Friday we’re just making sure that the public does know the building will be demolished that’s what was discussed today,” said Commissioner Brandon Garrett.
Five years ago voters approved a million and a half dollars to demolish the building but commissioners delayed tearing it down to give film producers a shot at marketing the old jail to movie makers.
“For the film industry it would be devastating because most of the films that we have been able to attract to Augusta have been because they wanted a jail,” said local film producer Mark Crump.
Commissioners were concerned that re-opening the old building for the courts would put employees at risk because of the past problems of mold and leaks.
“The feelings of the general commission that we needed to go ahead to get rid of the buildings,” said Commissioner Dennis Williams.
And many commissioners felt the judges order was an overreach forcing the commissions response.
“The action that took place today on the public side of the executive session sends a message,” said Commissioner Brandon Garrett.
We reached Judge Carl Brown about the commission decision and whether this is an act of defiance against his order Judge Brown saying he could not comment saying it is a pending matter.