Towns agree to pursue joint court facility

PORT HENRY - A joint court facility for the towns of Moriah, Crown Point and Westport took a step toward reality recently.

Officials from each town met Oct. 2 and agreed to move forward with the project.

"It's a great step forward to see three towns sit down together and talk about something like this," Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. "I'm excited."

The meeting included Scozzafava, Crown Point Supervisor Dale French, Westport Supervisor Dan Connell and Moriah Justice Brian Venne.

All three communities face a state mandate for greater court space.

"We all have the same issues," Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. "The state is offering incentives for consolidation of services and this certainly fits. Why spend the money for three court houses when we can all use the same one?"

While discussions are on-going, it's likely the shared court building would be located in Port Henry - central to the three communities.

Scozzafava said he has spoken to state Sen. Betty Little, who has expressed her support for the project. Little has promised to search for funding for a joint court.

"Hopefully Sen. Little can find a grant that will pay for this," Scozzafava said.

While local leaders are optimistic, some residents are opposed to the shared facility concept. Scozzafava doesn't understand their thinking.

"It's definitely going to be a cost savings to the taxpayers in all the towns," he said. "Some have expressed opposition, but I believe it's the way to go."

But while talks are in progress, Moriah and Crown Point are proceeding with plans to upgrade their current court facilities.

Moriah is now seeking bids for an addition to the current court house at Park Place in Port Henry. If the joint venture becomes reality, Scozzafava said the addition will be adequate to welcome the Crown Point and Westport courts.

"Our (Moriah) court meets two nights a week," Scozzafava said. "We could easily allow Crown Point and Westport to hold court here."

French said the Crown Point court, now located in the Miller building, meets once a week. Plans for improvements at the Miller building will continue even as court talks proceed.

If the Crown Point court moves, French said, the space at the Miller building can be used to help alleviate over-crowding at the town hall.

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