Steamboat Springs Voters who felt their objections to a proposed $17.2 million court facility project were not heard last year have a second chance to speak out on the county's next push for new courts.
The Routt County Judicial Facility Steering Committee holds its first meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday in the commissioners' hearing room in the courthouse annex.
County officials encourage the public to participate. The committee's success depends on residents' willingness to contribute to the discussion.
Unlike the previous steering committee of county-appointed members that put together the failed court facility project, the sequel is open to everyone.
"Anyone can come and feel like they have a voice in what we're talking about," County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.
County officials hope to better gauge public sentiment about building new courts the second time around. They do not want to repeat last November, when 59 percent of voters rejected a courthouse initiative.
Voters were well informed about arguments for and against a new court facility, but they didn't tell county officials how they felt about the issue until they voted, Stahoviak said earlier.
Retired 14th Judicial District Judge Richard Doucette told the county how he felt about the issue last December when he ordered the county to provide a safe and adequate facility for its courts.
The county is expected to find a way to finance and complete a new court facility by mid-2006.
State standards mandate that any courthouse in the state with three judges provide at least 33,200 square feet.
The Routt County Courthouse accommodates two district court judges and one county judge in 11,200 square feet.
People who attend the Wednesday meeting will learn the county's timeline for complying with Doucette's order and its options for appealing the order.
Doucette handed a similar order to Grand County, but county officials there are appealing his ruling to build new courts.
County Manager Tom Sullivan will present results from a recent post-election survey. Last December, Texas-based Hill Research Consultants called 301 people who voted on the failed courthouse initiative in the Nov. 5 election to determine their attitudes about the proposed judicial facility. The survey revealed the project's size, cost, location, parking structure and proposed 1.3 mill property tax increase were reasons the proposal failed.
The committee will address those elements.
County officials are using the survey to weigh the practicality of taking another court facility project to the voters in November. But they are cautious about setting another project up for defeat at the polls.
County officials stressed the meeting is informal. They are looking for direction from the committee as to where the county should head on the issue of new courts.