The fight continues to keep Jefferson County courts and other county services in the Bessemer Cutoff.
Wednesday, real estate developer Anthony Underwood of Anthony Underwood Properties offered the old Westlake Mall. The Mall of Westlake has been idle for years. Underwood believes it could be an alternative to the downtown courthouses.
"I think it's a win win because they say they don't have an option, now they have an option. They can utilize and within 30 days be able to move into the property," Underwood said.
Jefferson County Commissioner Sandra Little Brown held a news conference at the Bessemer Criminal Justice Center Wednesday. Brown says the county can not afford to continue to pay $8 million in leases each year.
"It's not about the location of a building to provide services but having enough employees to help citizens conduct business in a timely and orderly manner," Brown said.
Brown hopes to get a new and lower lease agreement with Ambac Assurance Corp. Bessemer taxpayers just hope they will not be forced to go to Birmingham to get their car tags and driver licenses.
"It would be devastating. It's already at that point. They need to keep these things open," Frank Hutchins said.
Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley says there have been efforts to shut down the courthouses in the past but Gulley says he is prepared to file a lawsuit to keep them open, challenging the commission's authority to close them.
"We know closure of the courthouse would be devastating to the western area of Jefferson County not only Bessemer but all the surrounding cities as well," Gulley said.
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