OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A group of judges are leading an effort to move Thurston County's courthouse to downtown Olympia.
The judges complain the courthouse, which was built nearly 40 years about, is outdated. But their biggest concern is safety.
"We continue to live with these security concerns upon entering the building. We put our staff and public at risk and that's just something we need to action," said Judge Carol Murphy, Thurston County Presiding Superior Court Judge.
Judges take issue with the fact there is only one central lobby at Thurston County District Court. They say this leads to criminals, jurors, lawyers and judges all milling around together.
Another one of the judges' concerns is that they, along with staff, often use the same back hallway that inmates use to access courtrooms.
Right now, the courthouse sits on a hill overlooking the State Capitol in a remote location. Judges and lawyers complain the building's design is flawed and falling apart.
County commissioners are currently spending $125,000 on a feasibility study, which will examine potential locations, the cost of building a new courthouse or the cost to remodel the current one.
"If we move 220 courthouse employees and an 80-100,000 square foot building to downtown Olympia, that would change the whole dynamic of a downtown that some people fear is dying," said Judge Brett Buckley, Thurston County Presiding District Court Judge. "You'd have all these folks coming down who have jobs...they're going to need places to eat lunch. Some of they are going to need to have homes near the courthouse."
County commissioners are expected to wrap up the feasibility study in August and make a recommendation to address the safety and future of the courthouse.