Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents Take a Look at New Judicial Annex; Nassau: Fernandina Beach Still County Seat; Complex Is in Yulee

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents Take a Look at New Judicial Annex; Nassau: Fernandina Beach Still County Seat; Complex Is in Yulee

Article excerpt

Byline: Amelia A. Hart, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

Workers were busily laying sod as people began to arrive at the Nassau County Judicial Annex Saturday morning, but the main attraction of the day, the county's new $20 million courthouse, was ready and open for visitors.

"I can't help but wonder what it was like in the 1800s when the first courthouse opened," Nassau County Commissioner Nick Deonas said. "I'm sure the feelings were the same."

Longtime O'Neil residents Martha and Luke Sresovich were among the first to start exploring the rooms and hallways of the new annex, the centerpiece of Nassau County's 160-acre governmental campus just east of Interstate 95.

"I like the clock tower," Luke Sresovich said. "It's like the clock tower on the courthouse downtown."

"It's wonderful. There's so much room," Martha Sresovich said. "But the community's grown so much."

Saturday's dedication of the 111,000-square-foot judicial annex -- which almost doubles the 60,000 square feet of county courts and offices between the temporary courthouse in Yulee and the county's administrative building in Fernandina Beach -- puts a period to a century-old dispute between the east and west sides of the county about the location of the county courthouse.

A 1999 agreement between the county and the city of Fernandina Beach, which remains the county seat, split the courthouse and paved the way for the county to build the judicial complex in Yulee.

Under the agreement, the historic courthouse in Fernandina Beach was to be restored to provide a courtroom and chambers for two civil court judges, and the city agreed to allow the county to build a jail and judicial complex, including two criminal courts, in Yulee.

The historic Nassau County Courthouse in Fernandina Beach was built in 1892 for $22,000. The restored historic courthouse reopened in June 2002 at an estimated cost of $5 million.

The new annex includes room for four courtrooms and judges, but only two courtrooms will function immediately. …

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