I read with great interest the Nov. 29 article, Report on old courthouse reignites money debate, regarding the proposal to build a new Miami-Dade Courthouse.
The draft report by the Miami-Dade Court Capital Infrastructure Task Force recommends spending $360 million to build a new 550,000-square -foot courthouse. The task force report apparently ignores or doesn’t remember that in 2015 the taxpayers voted against building and financing a new $390 million courthouse. Does the task force really believe that reducing the budget by a mere $30 million honors the taxpayers’ expressed wishes?
The task force’s wish to “represent the community’s commitment to the rule of law and access to justice” is laudable, but at what cost? Did the task force consider that the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County might have have other priorities for that amount of money? If a new courthouse is built what is going to happen with the existing historic courthouse?
Who would buy it, will it be abandoned, or do they plan to tear it down?
I agree with the dissenting task force member, Maria Luisa Castellanos, who recommends the option of remodeling the county-owned, and currently empty, 140 West Flagler building. This seems like a better alternative, particularly when one considers that it is only 300 feet from the existing historic courthouse.
Another option that deserves serious consideration is building several smaller satellite courthouses instead of one new centralized courthouse in downtown Miami. This alternative would result in better public access to the justice system while lowering overall cost.
The savings would come from eliminating the need for elevated parking structures, lower land and construction costs. It would also result in achieving even more savings by reducing traffic congestion and travel times for the users and employees of the court system.
Jorge L. Estevanez, Miami