Court Moving to Seabrook

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By Susan Morse

Hampton Union, Tuesday, September 27, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

SEABROOK -- The Hampton District Court on Winnacunnet Road will be moving temporarily to Ledge Road in Seabrook.

The state has signed a three-year contract with DCC Development Corp., to lease space at 130 Ledge Road, on the west side of Interstate 95, according to Laura Kiernan, communications director for Chief Justice John Broderick.

The move is expected to take place Nov. 1. The building first needs $19,000 in renovations, Kiernan said.

The cost to lease is $13.50 per square foot (total 4,859 square feet), with a 3 percent increase each year, for a total price tag of $202,752, she said. This compares to the $9.16 per square foot charged by the town of Hampton to lease the century-old building on Winnacunnet Road.

The new lease was approved by the governor and Executive Council on Wednesday.

The Ledge Road site has two floors, air conditioning and many windows, Kiernan said. It is in a quiet area off the road, and looks like an office building, she said. On one side is a light industry warehouse. There's a large parking lot.

The state has been seeking both a temporary and permanent location for a new district court as employees at the current courthouse have suffered through flea and mold infestations. The current courtroom is on the second floor and is not wheelchair-accessible.

Last March, the state had announced it had found a temporary site in Seabrook, in a retail complex on Route 1 near the Hampton Falls town line.

The Bureau of Court Facilities then determined the Ledge Road site was under consideration.

"This has been a long time coming," said Kiernan on Friday. "The chief justice is very pleased. It's an important move. It means our employees will be in a safe and healthy environment and all will have access."

Both Hampton and Seabrook vied for the temporary court location, and officials in both towns have said they want a new permanent district court to be in their town.

A permanent facility will likely combine the Hampton and Exeter district courts. The state has indicated it will pay to build one joint court, not two separate ones.

The Exeter District Court, formerly in downtown Exeter, is currently at the Rockingham Superior Court facility in Brentwood.

District courts cover violation and misdemeanor charges, as well as juvenile cases and small claims.

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