Letter: Board should stop catering to courts
This is in response to the recent editorial in this paper regarding county office space.
I am a member of the county planning committee which was charged with the responsibility to conduct a study of current and future space needs for county offices. Our primary goal was to utilize the existing top floor of the new jail and unused space in the old jail. We did not believe it was wise or necessary to build new space if existing space could be used effectively. To assist us we recommended to the board that an architectural firm with expertise in our area of need be hired.
We considered many different arrangements and submitted to the board for approval what we as a committee and the architect believed to be a plan satisfactory, acceptable and overall cost efficient. To arrive at this plan the various department heads and courts were involved and in agreement. At least they did not express disagreement to the committee.
The committee members were well aware of the concerns the court has regarding security, space needs for client/attorney conferences, jury space, witnesses, waiting room, public, judges, staff, etc. These concerns were addressed in the final plan, which may not have met all desires, but it was done using available space and considering the working relationships of the various departments and public access to the departments.
Statutes require the state to provide judges and support personnel and counties are required to provide the building facility to accommodate the courts. There is no mandate requiring arrangement, number of courtrooms or size of the court facility. The selected architectural personnel had this experience and knowledge based on nationally accepted standards for courts. This is one of the reasons they were selected. They were satisfied the top floor of the jail building could be finished to meet these standards and the current and future county needs.
The editorial is correct in saying the county board should do what is necessary and stop catering to the courts.