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Balich: Other courthouse sites may be ‘more cost-effective’

Published: Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 10:43 p.m. CST

JOLIET – Will County Board Member Steve Balich wants the board to get away from the idea that the new courthouse has to be built downtown.

The county needs to explore other options that could be more cost-effective, he said.

“We keep talking about a Joliet campus but we still have out there somewhere in limbo the idea of making the campus somewhere else,” Balich, R-Homer Glen, told board members during Thursday’s meeting. “It may be a lot cheaper and a lot better to get some green space and just build everything we need the way we want it and have plenty of parking.”

Balich brought up the courthouse plan as the board discussed another downtown project – conversion of the former Social Security Administration building into county offices.

While several board members, including Speaker Herbert Brooks, D-Joliet, have previously noted the county’s commitment to keeping the courthouse in downtown Joliet, Balich and others have floated the idea of moving it out to the Interstate 355 ­greenway near Silver Cross Hospital.

However, it’s likely the courthouse will be built where the First Midwest Bank, 50 W. Jefferson St., currently stands. The county bought that site earlier this year intending to build a new courthouse there.

Still, Darien-based Wight & Company, hired earlier this year to plan the new courthouse, intends to do a cost analysis for all options, so board members can make an “informed decision,” said Denise Winfrey, D-Joliet, who chairs the Capital Improvements Committee.

A new courthouse could cost $140 million to $200 million, depending on how many courtrooms the county decides to build.

The County Board also approved a $1.4 million contract for the remodeling of the former Social Security Administration building. Montgomery-based Lite Construction Inc. will remodel the space for recorder of deeds’ and coroner’s offices.

Heroin prevention

The County Board also approved a $30,429 contract with the Robert Crown Center for Heroin Education to bring a heroin prevention program to Valley View School District 365.

The program has previously been taught at Joliet Township High Schools and Troy Middle School. The contract is funded through Justice Assistance Grant funds.

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