York County Commissioners have authorized their engineer to move forward with design and bidding for the build-out of the fifth floor of the York County Judicial Center.
But that doesn't mean the project will come to fruition - at least, not entirely.
The three-man board has two positions on how to proceed with the project, which would finish a floor of the judicial center left vacant when the center was built in 2004.
The floor was intended to provide room for growth in the future, but commissioners disagree about whether that future is now.
President Judge Stephen Linebaugh said the need for space is dire, that justice is being delayed because there aren't enough hearing rooms for the growing caseload.
Vice President Commissioner Doug Hoke is of a same mind, reiterating during Wednesday's meeting that that's a matter of "when" not "if" the entire floor needs to be finished. He has said he'd like to see the board authorize finishing the entire project while interest rates are low and work is cheaper.
Another view: But his colleagues on the board, President Commissioner Steve Chronister and Chris Reilly, both said they'd like to move forward with only what's needed immediately, finishing a third or a quarter of the floor and postponing the rest.
"I believe you only spend what you need," Chronister said.
He said the county should only authorize what it needs now, though the work might cost more later.
County engineer John Klinedinst in January presented the board with the results of a concept design that started last year.
The three options given were:
* Spending $8.9 million to build and furnish six jury courtrooms and finish the floor to mirror the sixth and seventh floors of the building;
* Spending $8.1 million to build and furnish eight non-jury courtrooms, a large multipurpose room, and a district magistrate court where one of the county's district magistrates could move and a large multipurpose room; or
* Spending $8.2 million to build and furnish 8 non-jury courtrooms, a district magistrate office, and one larger non-jury courtroom instead of the multipurpose room.
What's next: Wednesday's unanimous vote authorized Klinedinst to get a base bid consisting of four courtrooms and one multipurpose room, as well as bid alternatives for the other options, including full build-out.
The board, which is hoping to keep costs to $5 million, could then have actual costs in-hand to decide what it wants, Klinedinst said.
Bids are expected to come back in January, he said, and construction could start in March, 2014.
A study released before the judicial center was built lists 1996 and 1997 projections showing the fifth floor would be needed in 2015; that's the year the floor would likely open if the current design and bidding schedule stays on track.
Linebaugh said after the vote that he's in favor of completing the entire floor, but he's grateful commissioners have been willing to move forward with the project in some capacity.
He said he's willing to compromise, and that a partial build-out should give the judicial system the room it needs immediately.
The complete build-out would likely meet the judicial system's needs for about 15 or 20 years, he said.
- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.