Inyo County court officials received permission last week to proceed with their new court facilities project, beginning with site selection in Bishop.
On Friday, Oct. 26, the Judicial Council of California voted to accept a September 2012 recommendation of its Court Facilities Working group, which gives Inyo County Superior Court the go-ahead to proceed with its plans for a new courthouse.
One condition for proceeding with the project is that the construction budget be reduced by 10 percent, as was recommended in September.
Court Executive Officer Tammy Grimm said that before construction on the project begins, all plans for the facility will be reviewed and further cuts are likely, “which is fine, because I’m looking for a functional building,” and nothing extravagant.
Friday’s vote moves Inyo, along with 22 other statewide projects, back into a “proceed” status, while indefinitely pausing seven projects in Kern, Los Angeles, Monterey, Placer and Plumas counties due to deep cuts to the state’s court budgets.
“This has been an incredibly challenging and trying process,” Grimm said.
Grimm and Judge Brian Lamb attended several public hearings before the Facilities Working group back in September. Part of their campaign to secure funding for the court facility project included a presentation to state officials highlighting the county’s need for a new, modern facility.
“The September 2012 Inyo presentation to the Trial Court Facilities Working Group was our time to explain to this deciding body the circumstances, characteristics and challenges of our current court facilities, outlining a comprehensive list of factors to emphasize why Inyo County needed a new courthouse,” Grimm said. “Factors we discussed included security, overcrowding, a lack of ADA accessible courtrooms, physical conditions of the buildings, accessibility of facilities by the public, among about 11 other factors.”
When the Working Group approved the project with the 10 percent reduction, “Both Judge Lamb and I assured the Facilities Working Group that we were happy to work with the committee to reduce costs as much as possible in light of our county’s need for a functional, accessible courthouse facility to serve the public for decades and generations to come,” Grimm said.
A Subcommittee of the Facilities Working Group will continue to work with local court officers to keep the cost of the new court facility as low as possible. That subcommittee will include court personnel, including judges, and an architect who will be able to modify the plans for the new facility to reduce costs where appropriate.
According to Grimm, the next step for Inyo County is site selection for the new court facility. “The California Administrative Office of the Courts will proceed to identify and purchase a site for the courthouse,” she said. “Once the site has been obtained, the AOC will move to the design phase and, at that time, the administrators and judges will also be asked to appear before a subcommittee of the Facilities Working Group to address what reductions in the courthouse construction budget can be reasonably achieved. The court administrators and judges who are wholeheartedly committed to that process and welcome the ability to participate.”
In the site selection process, the AOC will review a recommendation local Project Advisory Group, which identified three pieces of property they consider appropriate for the new facility.