Several local legislators still may not be happy with the idea, but state officials expect to accept bids within a few weeks for a new building to house the 4th District and 4th Circuit courts.
"We're probably within a few weeks of going out to bid," Gordon Bissegger, deputy state court administrator, told county commissioners Wednesday.Bissegger and representatives from the state division of facilities and construction management met with commissioners to discuss a lease agreement to keep the 4th District Court in the old County Courthouse until the new building is completed.
Officials are considering an 18-month lease, which would begin in July when the state takes over from counties the responsibility for housing district and circuit courts throughout the state.
Several local legislators, including Sen. Chuck Peterson, R-Provo, would like to see the district court remain in the courthouse. During its last general session, however, the Legislature approved the collocation of the two courts in a new building.
"What is interesting is that all these local legislators voted for that and supported the legislative-intent bill," said Jeril Wilson, R-Utah, who also attended Wednesday's meeting.
He said several local legislators would like to move the 4th Circuit Court, located in the Provo City Building, into the old courthouse on a temporary basis and hold public meetings to gather input on future use of the courthouse.
"It's futile to hold public hearings if construction of the new building is ready to start," Wilson said.
Michael Havemann, local court administrator, said the hassle and cost of temporarily moving the circuit court to the old courthouse would make little sense, especially because some remodeling would be required.
Ken Nye, representing the state Division of Facilities Construction and Management, said concerns by local legislators haven't slowed preparations for the new courthouse.
"The delays were minimal," he said. "They really haven't affected it at all."
Under terms of an agreement between Provo and the state, Provo will issue lease revenue bonds to build the new courthouse, which probably will be located on the Ashton block north of the Excelsior Hotel. The state will lease the facility from Provo with an option to buy.
Havemann said the new courthouse will be large enough to house the district and circuit courts, while providing enough room for about 20 years of growth.
"The building will be roughly the same size (as the County Courthouse), but there will be a lot more usable space," he said. "Right now, we're looking at a four-story building."
Until the new building is ready, state officials hope to rent space in the old courthouse for about $6.50 per square foot. In addition to rent costs, security issues and rent of computers and phones also will have to be worked out.