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Moriah to defy state court mandate

PORT HENRY - If the town of Moriah is going to get a new court house, the state of New York will have to build it.

The Moriah town board voted unanimously Feb. 10 to ignore a state order to construct a new house, citing affordability.

"I'm going to recommend we put this on hold infinitely," Supervisor Tom Scozzafava told his board. "First and foremost, I don't see any grant money from from Albany. If we have to go out and borrow (money) for a court house, it just doesn't make sense."

Trustees agreed.

Steven Gold of the New York State Office of Court Administration told the Moriah town board in June 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.

The state Office of Court Administration had promised Moriah nearly $50,000 for the $300,000 construction. That meant the town would need to borrow for the project.

Trustees acknowledge they'll forfeit the $50,000 promised by the state, but say the town simply can't afford the remaining $250,000.

"If the state of New York says we have to have a new court house they can build it," Scozzafava said.

Scozzafava acknowledged the Moriah town court space is inadequate.

"It it the Taj Mahal? No," the supervisor said. "Are we able to hold court? Yes."

Town trustees 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.

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.

Now it's a moot point. Moriah can't afford it, trustees said.

Moriah had been hoping 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 plan fell apart last spring when a suitable location and timetable for construction couldn't be found.

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