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Feb 18, 2009 1:27 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Justice Court relocation to go forward

Feb 18, 2009 1:27 PM

A faltering economy and a still uncorrected discrepancy in the town’s capital budget has not stopped the wheels of justice from moving—at 
least to Jackson Avenue in Hampton Bays.

The Southampton Town Justice Court, currently in the basement in Town Hall, will be moved to Hampton Bays in April, as planned, according to Town Services Management Administrator Richard Blowes.

During the Town Board’s work session Friday, at which it met with the General Services Department that Mr. Blowes manages, members voted to issue a $2 million bond from the $3 million in funding that was approved by the board in 2008. The town already has spent $1 million on the relocation project, Mr. Blowes said.

Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi complained that the board had no choice but to approve the bond issue because the 19 modular units for the new facility have already been purchased and delivered to the site.

Mr. Nuzzi contends that the Jackson Avenue plans have evolved into something much larger and more expensive than what the Town Board first authorized.

Initial plans for the Jackson Avenue site, on town-owned property 
near Red Creek Park, were for eight modular units to accommodate the town’s tax assessor and tax receiver. However, once the decision was 
made to keep those offices at Town Hall and relocate the court to Jackson Avenue instead, Mr. Blowes and the General Services Department upped the order for modular units from eight to 19.

“It’s unacceptable for administrators to make these funding determinations without Town Board approval,” Mr. Nuzzi said. “We go in with eyes wide open and approve a plan only to find out two years later that those plans have grown because administrators are running wild making change orders mid-stream.”

Mr. Nuzzi said he understood the need to address the overcrowded conditions at the court’s current location, which has been a concern for years—so has the transport of prisoners so close to the Southampton elementary school.

“What we had discussed were plans to renovate the court at Town Hall and to include video arraignments to address the concerns of the prisoners near the school,” Mr. Nuzzi said. “But then they shifted gears and we’re now being asked to approve funding for something that has already been purchased. Enough is enough. Whether it’s $1,000 or $1 million, it’s taxpayer dollars.”

The pre-fabricated units were purchased from a Pennsylvania manufacturer, Markline, and will be arranged to form an H-shaped complex that will house the new court. Town justice chambers, attorney conference rooms, district attorney offices and a reception area for court clients are some of the planned features of the Jackson Avenue facility. Prisoners being transported to the new court will be held in a gated area and brought in through a separate entrance.

Back in July, Mr. Blowes estimated the court would have to be at Jackson Avenue in the modular units for five years until the town staked out a permanent court location and built a new courthouse. But Mr. Nuzzi said the 19 pre-fab trailers were “more than adequate” to house the court into the foreseeable future.

Once a new Southampton Justice Court is built, plans were to construct a multimillion-dollar, state-of-the-art municipal complex at the site to include a renovated police station, the Public Works, Parks and Recreation and Highway departments. In April, Town Engineer George Mootoo estimated the price tag on that megaplex to be near $100 million.

“Tell me why we need to spend $100 million on property that we already own?” Mr. Nuzzi said. “So long as I’m here, there is no chance that I will ever approve such a project.”

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“It’s unacceptable for administrators to make these funding determinations without Town Board approval,” Mr. Nuzzi said.
If by administrators you mean Sir Richard Blowes putting his fingers in yet another project over which he has no "can do" knoweledge, why don't you just get rid of him? The roof at Town Hall, the Flanders Senior Center, whats next for Richard to screw up? I got it, his lack of control over his comptroller will cost Linda the Supervisors seat. Might not look too good for you ...more
By Terry (380), Southampton on Feb 18, 09 1:35 PM
I think if Blowes ordered the extra units he should pay for them OUT OF HIS OWN POCKET, or, better yet, take it out of his salary! Here's another waste of money the taxpayers will end up paying for. How about we stick the court in some of these vacant retail buldings all over Town?
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Feb 18, 09 4:09 PM
politics at it's best, welcome to more of the same, diffrent name same theives
By typical (63), southampton on Feb 18, 09 11:24 PM
Of course we don't want the transport of prisoners near the Southampton schools. So let's move them next to our public park where our children play and our local school's sports teams host games. Right. The court has been there for years without any problems. The services we receive from the town are inadequate as it is, yet we should have to pay for a new police station & courthouse? Southampton politics at it's best.
By lol@hb (20), hampton bays on Feb 19, 09 9:55 AM
By rabbit (65), watermill on Feb 19, 09 10:34 AM
This is a huge problem for the town of Southampton. I don't believe Mr Blowes has the knowledge or education to preform the duties of his position. The senior center in Flanders is a prime example of this. I think a full investigation of the monies spent in his department should carefully be gone over. Some things just do not add up!!! With the economy the way it is,if it isn't broken don't fix it!!!
By bayview (160), Southampton on Feb 19, 09 11:10 AM
Why is Richard Blowes permitted to make these major project decisions without advising or getting approval from the Town Board? First it was the Flanders Community Center overspent by 5 times the original approved cost - then it was the unauthorized Town Hall Roof - now it's the Justice Court center in Hampton Bays. How do you think the people in Hampton Bays feel about the decisions he makes that affect their community? They, like the rest of us, only find out about them after the fact. Is this ...more
By Bob Whyte (48), Hampton Bays on Feb 19, 09 5:45 PM
How could this have ever happened? Wasn't the reciever of taxes going overt here? But instead Kiernan gets her office renovated. It must be nice to have your mother on the executive committee of the Southampton Town Republicans.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Feb 21, 09 7:45 AM
Seems like the same old / same old Republican status quo on governing technique - right out of the Bush/Cheney handbook and applied here in Southampton. First you find out how it benefits your party and friends (and find ways to protect them) and lastly you consider your community and constituents. Blowes, Kiernan, Kabot, Nuzzi - it doesn't matter - can you really find any difference among them?
By foodie (74), Remsenburg on Feb 21, 09 12:23 PM
For the most part I would say the prisoners being brought before the Southampton Justice Court are there for DWI's, domestic incidents, driving w/o a license,etc. Read the "Police News" section of the Southampton Press. This week's in particular. Mostly all of them are driving with suspended license or reg.
Im not saying there is NEVER anything worse (we remember the bouncer who was murdered at Publick House last year) but lets not group them all with child molesters as in "we dont want the ...more
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Feb 21, 09 10:35 PM
I thought our elected officals ran town hall-guess I was mistaken.
By eastquogueguy (22), East Quogue on Feb 21, 09 11:25 PM
TYPO! Sorry I meant to quote in my post above "we dont want the transport of PRISONERS (didnt mean to type "children") near the southampton schools."
My point I was trying to make was that most "prisoners" that appear before the court (according to the police section of the paper) are not necessarily going to snatch your children as they walk (guarded) past the school.
Sorry I screwed that up.
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Feb 22, 09 11:10 AM