This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.


Harrisburg ponders how to use acres of empty space as Congress puts the proposed federal courthouse on hold.


vacant lot stands at N. 6th and Reily streets in Harrisburg. But where, many ask, is our shiny new federal courthouse that’s supposed to be rising there?

Te answer comes down to two obstacles, one better

known than the other. It’s no secret that the first obstacle to construction is congressional appropriation of the funds, but the project’s fate also rests on the outcome of a lesser-known review underway of all federal courthouse construction projects. Chastised by the U.S. General Accountability Office for a clouded decision-making process and bloated construction projects, the federal judiciary is re-examining its five-year (2014 to 2018) plan that prioritized new courthouses for Harrisburg and 11 other cities. Te reworked plan will then be handed to Congress, which could use it to guide funding decisions. First, a recap. Harrisburg’s current federal courthouse stands

downtown at N. 3rd and Walnut streets, occupying several floors of the Ronald Reagan Federal Building. In 2004, the federal judiciary put Harrisburg on a list of cities where new construction was a top priority, prompted by the need to beef up security

14 | THE BURG | 08.14

or add more space, or both. Te General Services Administration (GSA) seemed hellbent on tearing down a viable block of 2nd Street downtown to make way for the new,

265,000-square-foot facility. organizations, city officials and the state’s

congressional members put up a fight. In 2010, the city prevailed, winning a commitment that the building would rise from the vast, L-shaped parcel bounded by N. 6th, N. 7th, Reily, Harris and Boyd streets, affirming hopes for a courthouse as a jewel of a Midtown renaissance. More than four years later, the five-acre site

remains vacant. About half of the $26.7 million appropriated by Congress for site and design work has been spent, according to the GSA, but Congress has yet to approve the remaining $110 million needed to move forward. It “remains to be seen” if Harrisburg stays on the

list of priority construction projects, said U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, a Republican who represents a chunk of Harrisburg and chairs the House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management. “Te Harrisburg Courthouse remains on the


Judiciary’s five-year Courthouse Project Plan,” said Barletta. “However, there are six federal courthouse projects scheduled ahead of it, at a combined cost of $700 million—which is currently not funded.” While many players point to the lack of a

congressional allocation as the holdup, Harrisburg also must wait while the judiciary reconsiders its construction projects. Te rethink was prompted by GAO’s April 2013

report that the judiciary’s five-year plan lacked transparency or documented justification for many priority projects. For instance, GAO claimed, the plan cites the need for two or more new courtrooms as a key criterion for a new building—and Harrisburg needs only one. Te judiciary balked at GAO’s recommendation

for a moratorium on construction but agreed to review all projects. Harrisburg is part of that review, according to U.S. Courts spokesperson Karen Redmond. She had no timeline for completion of the review, although the GAO report said it could be done by October 2015, plus another 18 to 24 months for a long-range facility plan.

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58