Judicial facility comments will be heard

County officials hope residents turn out to identify site

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— Wanted: People who have strong opinions about where new county courtrooms belong.

County officials hope residents turn out tonight to identify an appropriate site for the proposed judicial facility.

About 50 people filled the county commissioners' hearing room last month to talk about shortcomings in the judicial facility proposal that was rejected by voters last November and brainstorm new solutions to the county's crowded courts.

The group agreed the location of the new courtrooms needs to be finalized before questions about size, cost and funding can be answered.

Tonight's sequel to the February forum runs from 7 to 9 p.m. in the commissioners' hearing room in the Routt County Courthouse Annex and is open to everyone.

"Hopefully, we have the same amount of interested citizens," County Commissioner Doug Monger said.

County officials want participants to tell them if a new judicial facility belongs downtown or west of Steamboat Springs by the county jail.

Voters rejected a proposal to build new courtrooms across from the Routt County Courthouse last November.

And, following the election, the idea of building the facility next to the Routt County Jail gained some momentum.

County officials recognize developing a consensus may be tough when people hold deep-seated views about both locations.

"The feelings are strong enough on both sides," Monger said.

The Board of County Commissioners said earlier this week it was prepared to choose a site by April once it had given the public plenty of opportunities to weigh in.

"We made it fairly clear that we value the input, but the final decision ... is going to have to be made by us," County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.

The commissioners feel a sense of urgency in identifying a site and moving forward with the project as quickly as possible.

Retired 14th Judicial District Richard Doucette ordered the county in December to find a way to finance and complete a new judicial facility by mid-2006.

That leaves the county with little room for dawdling on decisions about the project's site, appearance and price tag.

The first hour of tonight's meeting is slated for presentations by the board and other county and court officials.

The second hour is intended to gauge public sentiment about the location of new courtrooms.

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