Move court back to Coalville, mayor says
February 9, 2010
The removal from Coalville of several government offices has taken its toll on the town.
Before the jail moved to the Snyderville Basin about a decade ago, North Summit resident Denise Pace said she prepared about 35 inmates three meals each day at her Main Street catering business.
"There is no way in the town of Coalville that you can make up that kind of revenue," Pace said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Pace owns Denise’s Home Plate, one of the few restaurants in Coalville.
"The more things they move out of Coalville, the harder it is to have the doors open," Pace said. "It’s an extremely big problem."
Coalville Mayor Duane Schmidt said businesses were devastated when the Summit County Health Department, Public Works and Sheriff’s Office moved out of the town. He also claimed the law was violated when 3rd District Court moved from the Coalville to the West Side about a decade ago.
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State law requires district courts be in county seats, Schmidt said. Coalville, the Summit County seat, is about 25 miles north of Park City.
"Sometimes it just seems that we’re going to move everything over to the West Side and we’re not concerned about what that does to Coalville," Schmidt said.
However, most of the people in Summit County live in the Snyderville Basin and Park City.
"There may be some convenience issues, but the taking of these offices away from Coalville has really destroyed some of the economic viability of a lot of the businesses that are there," Schmidt said.
Officials did not receive "legislative approval" before moving the court out of Coalville as required by state law, the mayor contended.
"In my opinion, it’s illegal," Schmidt said. "And let’s face it, if anything should be legal, the court system should be legal."
Meanwhile, 3rd District Court Judge Robert Hilder admitted the Legislature likely did not sign off on moving the court.
"I cannot honestly say that we got the approval. I think, probably we did not," Hilder said in a telephone interview.
Hilder also acknowledged that court has not been conducted in Coalville for about four years.
"We absolutely, under current statutes, must maintain a presence of the court in the county seat," Hilder said.
Complying with that law could mean holding court in the Summit County Council chambers once every three months, the judge explained.
"We have not held a day every quarter since about 2006. It became incredibly impractical," Hilder said. "We just weren’t able to get people to show up."
Still, officials must follow the law, Schmidt replied.
"Convenience does not make it right," he said. "Just because the population is greater over there doesn’t mean you take and move everything away from a small community."
The court should be moved back to Coalville despite the county spending millions of dollars to build the Summit County Justice Center in the Snyderville Basin, Schmidt explained.
"The way I read the law is court will be held in the county seat," Schmidt said. "If you read this law it says the only way to get it out of the county seat is with a legislative resolution prior to the move."
But permanently moving the court back to Coalville is probably unrealistic, Summit County Manager Bob Jasper said.
"The demographics and the population of the county have changed over the last 20 or 30 years," Jasper said. "Coalville has shrunk and the Basin and Park City have grown tremendously. They’ve tried to put county services in places that are conveniently located for the entire county."