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On civil courthouse location, Commissioners Court votes for … something

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 by Caleb Pritchard

More mystery is surrounding Travis County’s search for a new civil courthouse site following cryptic action taken by the Commissioners Court on Tuesday. On the agenda was the long-awaited consideration of properties proposed by the community advisory committee that had been vetting a string of candidates since early last year. Several members of that now-folded committee addressed the court on Tuesday, testifying that the body had conducted rigorous evaluations in good faith to not only find appropriate locations but also to drive down costs of the final design. Scott Dukette explained that in the wake of the 2014 2015 election – when voters shot down the idea of building the courthouse in the heart of downtown – he and others at first pressed for less central locations. “And I think we saw some reasons why some of those sites didn’t fare as well as our initial guess would’ve said they would have,” Dukette said. The committee, staff and the county’s consultants handed off to the court the final four sites that made it through the winnowing. One is the court’s headquarters at 700 Lavaca St., while the other three are privately owned. In order to protect the county’s bargaining position, the exact addresses of those properties have been withheld. Nor were they revealed when the court came out of an extended executive session Tuesday afternoon to vote on County Judge Sarah Eckhardt’s motion “to accept staff recommendation and proceed with negotiations.” Seconded by Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, that motion received unanimous approval, but zero elaboration. After the meeting, Eckhardt stayed mum when pressed for more information, but she did allow that tangible developments could be made public sometime in March.

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