JIM THORPE, CARBON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – A $13 million-dollar project is moving forward in Carbon County, but a nearby church wants it stopped. To build a three-story county building in Jim Thorpe, crews will need to cut into the mountain, which is part of the church’s foundation.
Church leaders don’t deny the county needs space to expand, but they want the project done somewhere else. County leaders, on the other hand, say this location is the best option.
While standing in the lower end of Saint Mark’s and Saint John’s Episcopal Church, you can see how the base of Flagstaff Mountain actually holds up the church.
“Anything that shifts that mountain will affect our building,” says Mary Shorten, Church Caretaker.
Caretaker Mary Shorten worries vibrations from construction will harm the church’s rareties, especially the historic Tiffany stained glass windows.
She explains, “in that glass there’s precious and semi-precious stones. Again, priceless.”
Carbon County Commissioners say the courthouse is overcrowded. To alleviate the issue, they plan to build a three-story building on Susquehanna Street, with employee parking and office space.
“The general public does not understand that we are mandated, we have to meet the demands of the court system,” says Wayne Nothstein, Carbon County Commissioner.
Commissioners say purchasing an already-existing building is too expensive, and county employees need to be within walking distance of the courthouse.
“In our opinion, this is the most feasible place to put it,” Nothstein adds.
Commissioners promise they’ll take extra precautions during construction, including vibration sensors to monitor drilling. Still, church leaders want them to consider other options.
“It’s just a risk to this building, to the windows, to the town,” Shorten says.
County leaders hope to start construction next month. Right now, they’re still in the permitting phase.
The church has started an online petition against this project, which has gained more than 1,000 signatures so far.
Carbon County Commissioners say one modification has been made. They’ve moved the project 8-feet further away from the church’s property line.