BOONE — Watauga County wants to remove an old law office building to make room for more courthouse parking on Water Street, but the Boone Town Council is asking the county to reconsider, calling it “a historic structure.”
The county purchased a former law office and apartment building at 136 N. Water St. in Boone from Professional Holdings LLC for $755,000 on Nov. 29, 2018, according to county property records. The structures on the property, which is located across from the Watauga County Administration Building, were built in 1925 and 1953, according to county records.
The Watauga County Commissioners voted on Dec. 3 to appropriate $752,041 from the county’s fund balance for the purchase. County Manager Deron Geouque said the county plans to utilize the property for parking for courthouse facilities.
But the Boone Town Council discussed the purchase at its Dec. 18 meeting, expressing interest because the building, the former Turner Law Office, is within an area being inventoried by the Boone Historic Preservation Commission for designation by the state of North Carolina as a local historic district.
“I’m very concerned about it,” Boone Town Council Member Sam Furgiuele said at the meeting. “I think we should take a position against that.”
The council voted unanimously to request that the commissioners reconsider the decision.
“The entire town council strongly feels that it is not in the best interest of the town of Boone or Watauga County to utilize the site of this historic home, in the county seat, only for parking,” a Jan. 3 letter from Boone Mayor Rennie Brantz to the Watauga County Commissioners stated. “Adjacent parking for the Watauga County Courthouse and other county offices is currently provided to Watauga County, free of charge by the town of Boone. In addition, citizens who are summoned for court duty are provided a pass to park in any town of Boone-owned parking lot during their service to our community.
“We offer to work with you to find a coordinated solution where Watauga County and the town of Boone can ensure the protection of our historic resources while addressing parking needs,” the letter concluded.