On Tuesday, January 22, 2019, the Board of County Commissioners voted 2-1 to build a new Courthouse and Civic Center in Downtown Olympia on the existing City of Olympia property located on Plum Street. The vote followed an executive session where the Commissioners discussed financial strategies for each site.
Over the past year, leadership from Thurston County and the City of Olympia have been working collaboratively on a project to build a new Courthouse and Civic Center facility.
The Courthouse Complex buildings in their current state are at the end of their useful life, costing significant taxpayer dollars to maintain and operate. The current layout and design also makes it difficult for citizens to locate important County resources and services in a timely manner. The success of this project will improve and consolidate services, as well as promote long-term cost savings, improved access, and increased consistencies across County offices and departments.
As financial stewards of citizen tax dollars, Thurston County's elected leaders are committed to meeting the needs of our growing community while promoting economic vitality. With an investment in a new or reconstructed courthouse and civic center, the County can modernize its facilities, consolidate services in a customer first manner, invoke civic pride in our community, and provide opportunities for economic revitalization to the area.
Through a feasibility study, leadership explored reconstructing and expanding the existing campus and buildings, and building a new Courthouse and Civic Center elsewhere within the City Limits of Olympia. The Board of County Commissioners narrowed down three of 12 potential sites to be evaluated. These sites included the current Hilltop site, a undeveloped piece of property on Harrison Street, and the City of Olympia's Leigh Crieghton Justice Center location on Plum Street.
The goal of the feasibility study was to research and analyze information about each of the three sites with a focus as to which site would be the most preferred by the Thurston County community. Thomas Architecture Studios, Inc. (TAS), the selected consulting company, evaluated issues such as customer service, economic development, life cycle costs, environmental sustainability, safety, parking, and transit services.
After community, staff, and elected officials provided feedback, the Commissioners voted to move forward with a proposal on the Plum Street site. The County anticipates bringing a completed proposal to the citizens for a vote during the August 2019 election.
Citizen Advisory Committee
A Citizen Advisory Committee has also been created to provide feedback to the Commissioners and advise on aspects of this project as the voice of the citizens. The Committee is comprised of 20 volunteer citizen representatives from across the county. Representation includes a retired superior court judge, small business owners, organization executive directors, attorneys, homemakers, community advocates, and realtors.