Moriah to pursue court project

PORT HENRY - Moriah will comply with a state mandate for greater court space after all.

Two months after voting to defy the state and a month after expressing interest in reconsidering a proposal for a joint court-police-fire building with the village of Port Henry, Moriah officials have announced they intend to construct an addition to the current court at Park Place in Port Henry.

Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said recently the town will use student labor from the Champlain Valley Tec campus in Mineville for the project.

"I think we can do it with the money we've received from the (state) Office of Court Administration," Scozzafava said. "It'll be a good experience for the students and it fits our budget."

The state Office of Court Administration has promised Moriah nearly $50,000 for the construction.

No one can blame Moriah residents if they're confused about the court project.

Steven Gold of the New York State Office of Court Administration told the Moriah town board in June 2008 the present 12x14 foot room that serves as Moriah town court is inadequate and must be addressed.

The town had plans to erect its own modular building to house its court and police department adjacent to the town hall at Park Place in Port Henry. That project was shelved when the cost soared.

Originally expected to cost about $170,000, estimates for a new court building reached as high as $500,000 because of state regulations and mandates. Scozzafava believed the final cost would be about $300,000.

Town trustees then considered several short-term solutions to the court situation, including renting space. Officials felt they had found space, the Mountaintime Furniture Building on Broad Street in Port Henry, but found it would cost $200,000 to bring the building up to state court code.

Finally - or it seemed at the time - the Moriah town board voted unanimously Feb. 10 to ignore a state order to construct a new house, citing affordability.

Then in March, hoping to get federal funding, Moriah officials noted the possibility of reviving a years-old plan to construct a joint municipal building with the village of Port Henry to house town court and police along with the village fire department. That initial plan fell apart last spring when a suitable location and timetable for construction couldn't be found.

Now, another month and another plan has come forward. Moriah officials intend to construct an addition to the current court at Park Place in Port Henry.

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