Communities may share court house

PORT HENRY - The towns of Moriah, Crown Point and Westport are investigating a shared court house.

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 - according to Scozzafava and Crown Point Supervisor Dale French.

"We've discussed it and the Crown point town board supports the concept," French said.

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.

"The work at the Miller building needs to be done, whether the court stays there or not," French said. "We're going to proceed with that work while looking at the joint court proposal. I think it makes a lot of sense."

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.

"The buzz word coming from Albany the past few years has been 'shared services'," Scozzafava said. "Do 18 different (Essex County) towns need 18 different court houses?

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