Posted Online: May 09, 2013, 9:34 pm

Courthouse committee recommends firm to study space issue

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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

Rock Island County's special courthouse committee is proposing a Chicago firm study the space needs of a new courthouse and possible location for the building.

On Thursday, the committee interviewed three firms that had submitted proposals to perform the study, voting to recommend CGL Companies. Their choice now goes to the full county board for a vote on May 21.

CGL has proposed charging the county $61,899 for the space needs assessment. The firm will partner with two local firms -- Estes Construction and KJWW Engineering -- on the study, according to Rock Island County Board member Brian Vyncke, D-Moline.

In addition to studying the space needs of a new courthouse, CGL also will look at different locations for a new courthouse and the costs of renovating an old building versus building a new courthouse, Mr. Vyncke said.

The Rock Island County Courthouse does not meet minimum standards for courthouses set by the Illinois Supreme Court, and 14th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Jeffrey O'Connor has pressured the county to find a way to build a new courthouse.

In December, Judge O'Connor served the county with an intent to sue over the condition of the courthouse.

In response, the county board organized an April 9 referendum asking voters if they would support expanding the powers of the county's public building commission to allow it to finance construction of a new courthouse. The commission initially was limited to jail projects only.

Voters rejected the proposal by a 61-39 margin.

Now, the commission appointed by Rock Island County Board Chairman Phil Banaszek to study the courthouse question is planning a second referendum on the courthouse in March 2014.

In its proposal, CGL would complete the assessment in October, giving the county board information that could be presented to the public before the next referendum, Mr. Vyncke said.