Three design consulting firms made their pitches to Rock Island County representatives Thursday to do space needs assessments for a new courthouse.
The few residents who sat in on the meeting and asked questions hailed the transparency by county leaders as a step in the right direction.
"I'm a strong advocate of the public planning process," Linda Anderson of Rock Island said. "Getting people involved is difficult."
Last month, voters overwhelmingly said "no" to a referendum that sought to expand a public building commission to finance a new courthouse.
One of the firm's representatives, Rob Fisch of Chicago-based CGL, acknowledged the "intense scrutiny" of issues pertaining to the courthouse.
CGL, along with Peoria-based Dewberry Architects Inc. and Rock Island-based Gere/Dismer, made pitches.
County board member Steve Meersman of Moline sat in on the meeting and asked how a location might affect the design.
"Until we know how much space we need, it's premature to decide on a location," Meersman said afterwards.
Rock Island County Board chairman Phil Banaszek appointed a 12-member ad hoc committee in February to come up with a plan for the aging courthouse in downtown Rock Island. Committee members interviewed three firms Thursday regarding a space needs assessment for county buildings.
Five firms responded to an earlier request for qualifications and the committee narrowed them down to three.
Brian Vyncke of Moline, a county board member who also serves as co-chairman of the ad hoc committee, said he was impressed with the three finalists.
Their proposals are found on the county's website, www.rockislandcounty.org.
The committee will choose one at its meeting next Thursday, Vyncke said.
CGL proposed that it could complete a space needs assessment in three months, while Dewberry and Gere/Dismer proposed four months, Vyncke said. Firms that proposed a study in six months weren't considered.
"They recognized that we're under a tight deadline to get this done before the next referendum," Vyncke said.
County leaders have said they likely will put the courthouse issue before voters again next year.
Fourteenth Circuit Chief Judge Jeffrey O’Connor and County Circuit Clerk Lisa Bierman have agreed to loan the county up to $250,000 from court funds to pay for the space needs assessment.