BERRYVILLE — A second attempt will be made to obtain proposals from design firms for developing a master plan for the Clarke County Courthouse grounds.
County officials want to turn the property on North Church Street in downtown Berryville into a place where visitors can learn about different aspects of the county’s history. The effort comes following controversy over what to do with a Confederate monument that has been in front of the courthouse for more than a century.
The Clarke County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday was disappointed to find out that only one firm responded to a recent request for proposals (RFP). The panel decided to schedule a work session during the next few months to further discuss the matter.
Before they issue the second RFP, they want to figure out why there was a lack of response to the first one.
“We were pretty careful in how we wrote it,” said board Chairman David Weiss. “It was broad, but yet it was pointed.”
A lack of responses to RFPs “happens from time to time,” said County Administrator Chris Boies. When that happens, county Purchasing Manager Mike Legge usually contacts firms that officials thought would respond to an RFP to find out why they didn’t.
Boies said he’ll try to gather such information to present during the work session, which hasn’t yet been scheduled.
The board needs to receive more than one proposal “so we can get the best bang for our money,” said Vice Chairman Bev McKay.
Weiss, the Buckmarsh District supervisor, said that although it’s not going as fast as they had hoped, “the board is committed to this project.”
A citizens committee established to help the supervisors determine how to respond to the monument controversy heard public comments on the issue. The committee then prepared a list of recommendations for the courthouse property, which the supervisors endorsed. Among those recommendations:
The current Confederate monument should stay. Contextual signs explaining the monument’s relation to history should be added.
The “courthouse green” should be an area dedicated to both memorials and education. Perhaps at least one more monument — pertaining to another aspect of county history — could be added, officials reason.
Naming of one or more of the courthouse buildings in honor of someone important to the county’s history, especially an African American, should be considered.
Grants and private contributions should be used to the maximum extent to fund the recommendations.