Jefferson County Commission president Bettye Fine Collins said that the new Jefferson County Courthouse in Bessemer will open in June. The building was completed last year but has sat empty because the county couldn't afford to staff it and run the operations there.
Now Collins says opening the courthouse is "prudent" because taxpayers are paying $5 million a year in debt service on the building.
"We've built that edifice out there..."
Let's not forget she was against building the courthouse in the first place and in 2006 said: (Much of this comes from a previous Bessemer Opinions post).
''Is Bessemer growing residentially that it needs to serve more people? No,'' Collins said. ''We've got a courthouse satellite in Forestdale, we've got one in Center Point, we've got one in Homewood and now one in Gardendale. Why in the world are we building a $100 million deal in Bessemer?''
I wrote a letter that was printed in the Birmingham News that pointed out that she didn’t understand the history or the importance of the Bessemer Cutoff and the courthouse, and invited her to come visit Bessemer and learn about us. I mentioned that historic neighborhoods are being restored, plans are in place to revitalize downtown, our public education is improving, and new families are moving to Bessemer. (All of that was true in 2007, still true in 2010).
She took my advice, and showed up for the groundbreaking in April 2007, saying, "Bessemer has a rich and wonderful history. This groundbreaking helps the resurgence of downtown and reflects the renewal going on all over the city.”
At any rate, we welcome the news that the courthouse will open, and with the new DHR building groundbreaking scheduled to take place next month just a couple of blocks away, it looks like the south downtown area of Bessemer will lead the way in the revitalization of downtown.
Look for a new coffee shop and a restaurant to open in the area in the next year. Oh, that's just a wish, sorry. But maybe it will give someone an idea.