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.

(2) comments

RIBROADWAY

In the last election, I voted against giving county representatives full control to resolve issues with existing public facilities.

Issues of concern at the time were as follows:
1. What facilities were to be demolished and which were to remain?
2. What was the cost for new and/or renovated facilities and what will they look like?
3. Will there be better oversite to maintaining facilities if funding is approved?
4. Where will these facilities be located?

This meeting allows our representatives to actually do their job to provide the public with a plan of action.

While I don't want to give our representatives a blank check, I will be pleased that something more than assurances will be reviewed and voted on by the public.

I would probably oppose demolition of the county building or relcation of the court house to locatio that is far from it's existing location, but I can see the need for upgrade and/or replacement of some facilities.

This will not be the only opportunity to voice opinions, so I'm not sure I am not sure I see any unreasonable actions.

PainfullTruth

So let me get this straight, Banaszek is still moving forward on replacing a courthouse that the voters OVERWHELMINGLY voted against?

The people that will be paying for the new courthouse can't attend the meeting because it is during working hours? How does that make sense?

No wonder why the county board can't get the support from the public.

Welcome to the discussion.

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