Calif. City Debates Courthouse Location
(03/25/2011)

NEVADA CITY, Calif. — California’s Administrative Office of the Courts hosted a public meeting to hear comments on the environmental impact report being prepared for the proposed construction of a new courthouse.

The public has raised cultural and historical concerns over moving the Nevada City Courthouse from its downtown location.

Four sites are under consideration: the existing site, a site on land currently leased to the U.S. Forest Service, a location on Cement Hill, or adjacent to Juvenile Hall on Highway 49.

The draft EIR will focus on two preferred sites. The AOC has said it prefers the downtown site and will likely build there if it is deemed feasible. The site at Cement Hill is also a preferred option, while the USFS site may not be available if the Forest Service decides to renew its lease.

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If the AOC chooses the current site, an interim facility will be used during construction, increasing the overall costs of the project.

Community members supported keeping the courthouse downtown, arguing that removing it from its current location would damage the city culturally, aesthetically and economically. Some residents suggested the AOC reuse the existing building.

AOC staff said they believe they can make the existing site work, but would likely need to demolish the current building.

Project specifications designate the courthouse must be 84,000 square feet and have six courtrooms. Community members suggested constructing additional buildings to combat the current building’s space constraints, but efficiency and cost concerns usually mandate that all court operations be located in one place.

The AOC stressed that if a new building is constructed on the current site, it would take care to match it to the historical and aesthetic character of the neighborhood.

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