Webcam will allow locals to watch courthouse construction unfold

Two workers stand at the edge of the deep trench being dug at the county courthouse in 2012.

Smile, you’re on candid courthouse camera.

That could be the case in the coming months as construction at the new county courthouse unfolds. As work hit an upper gear at the Fourth and Monterey streets site, a court official has revealed there will be a special construction camera set up above the ground level – so local residents can watch the progress in real time.

“It’s still something we’re trying to sort out with regard to putting it in place,” said Gil Solorio, court executive officer for San Benito County. “It’s basically to try and provide an opportunity to have the public watch the project unfold in real time.”

Solorio said it came about through “community interest.”

“Keeping the community up to date – in theory, providing public access to that feed,” he said.

Construction recently launched downtown on the long-awaited project. On Monday, two large excavators were trenching – up to around 40 feet deep in one stretch – around the new courthouse grounds. Solorio called it the “beginning of what I would call the final phase, which is the construction.”

While San Benito County’s $33.6 million courthouse construction was delayed for about a year due to bonding issues at the state level, the local project also escaped California’s more recent budget wrath. The state is now considering the reconsideration of 13 other courthouse projects that aren’t quite at the construction phase.

“The bond sale (for San Benito’s project) essentially cemented the funding,” Solorio said. “So the project is moving forward.”

It has been in development since 2007, while completion is expected in the fall of 2013 for the 41,500 square-foot complex. The project is expected to add 175 to 200 construction jobs over the next two years, including 49 subcontracting firms working with the general contractor, Kitchell Contractors.

And while Solorio hopes the courthouse web cam will spur communitywide interest in the project, downtown businesses are sure to keep a close eye on the activity. It should help their bottom lines with all of the added workers in the area.

To further boost the economic impact, the Hollister Downtown Association delivered more than 100 brochures to the local court office, to hand them out to construction workers and others employed on the project.

“It gives us the opportunity to make them aware of what’s here,” said Brenda Weatherly, executive director of the HDA.

That opportunity might not have existed – if not for local organizations, businesses and government leaders banding together to convince the state to build the new courthouse downtown, instead of at a site north of Hollister on Flynn Road near the jail.

“We remain extremely appreciative of the collaboration that brought us to this point,” Solorio said.

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