Wednesday, October 30, 2002
The proponents of the new courthouse proposal are waging a "campaign of fear," telling us that it is only a matter of time before something (an act of violence) happens in our present facility. The fact is, no incident has been reported in more than 80 years.
They tell us that our courthouse is out of compliance with state law and if we don't build this now, the state will make us build something much uglier and more expensive. The fact is the size of our courthouse has been out of compliance for at least 20 years and no one can remember when it was in compliance. So, waiting one more year is unlikely to cause us problems with the state. Another year would be worth the wait to come up with a better proposal that satisfies our obligations, doesn't divide our community, is more cost effective, and promotes a design that looks as if it belongs in Steamboat rather than Denver or Vail or Aspen.
We are told that, by building now, we are saving $80,000 annually in office lease payments. But in fact, we will pay $17.2 million including $2.9 million for a hideous parking structure that adds only 35 additional spaces. It violates historic preservation guidelines as well as the intent of the Circulation and Mobility Plan and Vision 2020. Deliberation may determine how to keep from ruining a lovely Old Town neighborhood.
A recent article in the Steamboat Pilot & Today quoted one proponent as saying, "It is not so much a question of persuasion as it is education. If voters understand, they will be favorably inclined to it." Here's what I understand: The new courthouse primarily satisfies the narrow vested interests of a few. Not having met anyone "favorably inclined" to the new courthouse, I went down to the County Clerk's office to see who was financing the effort to promote it. As of Oct. 7, the most recent reporting date, "Routt Citizens for Safe Courts" had amassed a war chest of $11,500. About 60 percent has come from law firms.
With the turbulent economy the way it is, a cost cutting revision of courthouse plans should be done before the commissioners start spending the dollars they think we have.
Count this citizen against Referendum 1A.