The Leesburg Town Council has unanimously endorsed the expansion of the county courts in downtown Leesburg, rather than an alternative proposal that would move court facilities to a site off Sycolin Road, outside the town limits.
In a vote Tuesday, the council approved the text of a letter from Leesburg Mayor Kristen C. Umstattd to Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), chairman of the Loudoun Board of Supervisors’ Finance, Government Services and Operations Committee, affirming the council’s position that any court expansion should be done downtown.
The letter was in response to Loudoun officials’ recommendation that the General District and Juvenile and Domestic Relations courts be relocated outside of town, and Buona’s request that the committee also consider relocating the Circuit Court. The county is considering building a court complex outside Leesburg to allow for adequate expansion space to meet projected space needs associated with rapid population growth, and because of concerns about security, traffic and parking.
“The Loudoun County Courthouse has been an integral part of the fabric of downtown Leesburg since its inception,” Umstattd said in the letter. “It has been a vital centerpiece of the town, and we wish to see it continue as such. It is our desire to see any court expansion occur in downtown Leesburg, and we are committed to working with Loudoun County to ensure the courts’ place in the town.”
The letter requested a “public participation process” for the county to consider input from those who would be affected by expansion or relocation of the courts.
On Oct. 2, the town’s economic development commission also voted to recommend keeping the courts downtown and to encourage dialogue with the public.
The county is also considering moving the courts from downtown Leesburg partly because of council members’ request that Church Street be kept open. The county has raised concerns about court security and traffic flow with Church Street running between the existing court facilities and the old jail site, where previous plans have called for the new court facility to be built.
County officials estimated that it would cost about $70 million to move two of the courts, compared with $55 million to expand the courts downtown. The county has not publicly released cost estimates for moving all three courts.
The county’s finance committee is scheduled to hear from stakeholders at its meeting Oct. 22, when it will continue to discuss options for expanding the courts.