Board praised for new courthouse planning
Chief Judge recognizes non-partisan effort to improve public safety
"Much work was done over the last several months and especially the past few weeks," said Chief Judge Schoenstedt. "The entire county board, both sides of the aisle, along with County Executive Larry Walsh and his staff worked tirelessly to come up with the plan to fund several necessary capital projects. Their leadership and overall encouragement of all county board members to put aside their differences and bring their ideas to the table has been inspiring. The bonds that will be issued will be paid for by current revenue streams, without raising sales or real estate taxes."
"This has been and will continue to be a tremendous team effort at all levels of county government," said Speaker Jim Moustis. "The work of the judicial branch and the Chief Judge's input during the planning process has been vital to get us to this point. Along with the entire county board, I look forward to moving forward with our public safety capital projects and seeing a new courthouse in downtown Joliet by the end of 2019."
The current courthouse was built in 1969 when the county's population was 250,000; today the county has nearly 700,000 residents and is projected to grow to 1.2 million over the next 30 years. Its 23 courtrooms lack the necessary space and security and do not meet the minimum standards for safety and security as set by the Illinois Supreme Court. Will County has 35 judges, with one vacancy, who handle 80,000 cases annually.
"Our county has more than outgrown our current courthouse, and this is visible each day court is in session with crowds and lines of people overwhelming the building," said Ragan Freitag (R-Wilmington), chair of the county board's capital improvements committee and a local attorney. "This is a serious public safety issue. The clock has expired on the courthouse's usefulness; we must move forward now with designing and building a new judicial complex for our residents."
The new courthouse and judicial complex will house between 30 and 36 courtrooms, with a satellite courthouse in the northern portion of the county housing several more. The judicial complex will hold judges and numerous other departments including court clerk, state’s attorney, public defender, court administration, jury commission, court reporters, and the probation department.