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Courthouse design team could handle PR for county board

Published: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 9:25 a.m. CDT

JOLIET – An architectural firm hired by the county earlier this year to plan a new courthouse could also handle public relations for an additional cost, under a scope of services outlined Tuesday to a county board committee.

The Capital Improvements Committee on Tuesday approved the Darien-based Wight & Co.’s preliminary design work, which carries a $1.3 million price tag. Building a new courthouse could cost between $140 and $200 million.

The company’s work includes a concept plan, cost estimates, county population projections and tours of other courthouses. The county also has the option of tacking on other services such as public relations and communications, additional presentations and site due diligence.

There had been previous talks by committee members to also include a study of the potential for commercial space, such as a cafeteria, coffee shop or public area, but documents presented Tuesday did not include that.

In regards to public relations and communications, the company recommend working with the county to “develop an initial communications plan” and establish a “consistent message for all county leadership and board members to have when representing the project.”

The county would allow the company a $100,000 budget for public relations, according to documents presented Tuesday. A $50,000 budget was included for additional presentations and possible site due diligence.

The company also budgeted $93,500 in reimbursable expenses, including costs for printing, supplies relating to reports and presentations, travel and lodging expenses and mileage reimbursement, bringing total costs of planning to about $1.3 million.

The team also will look into the logistics of having satellite court locations in the northern and eastern portions of Will County to address long-term judicial needs. Another priority is looking into the courthouse’s need for state-of-the-art technology and security, a design that lends itself to future growth and energy efficiency components that would ultimately reduce operational costs down the road.

Wight’s plan of action still has to be approved by the full County Board, which meets later this month.

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