Hampton Makes Bid For Courthouse

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May Offer State Deal For Placement In Town

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, November 9. 2007

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

HAMPTON -- Local officials are considering offering the state a sweet financial deal to locate the combined Hampton and Exeter District Court in town.

Hampton selectmen are discussing the possibility of putting forth a warrant article in March that would ask voters to approve a bond article to construct the court house in Hampton.

Town Manager Fred Welch said the bond would be completely paid by the state and would cost the taxpayers nothing.

Welch said payments on the bond and operating the building would be the responsibility of the state via a lease agreement with the town.

"This would expedite the process of constructing a court house and leave the property in the hands of the town after it is paid for," Welch said.

Welch said the town and the state have already agreed on a potential site.

"We have found a site but I will not go into detail about that site because we are still working with the state in securing that land," Welch said. "But it is a piece of state-owned land."

The potential site can be served by public transportation and have water and sewer available.

Selectmen Chairman Ben Moore said the proposal may be the only way the town will see a new court house in the near future.

A few years ago, the court was near the top of the list for courthouse projects, but once the Exeter District Court was moved to Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood and Hampton District Court was moved to a location in Seabrook, other courts with more pressing needs rose to the top.

"The only way to ensure a timely replacement is for a town to step up and do what Fred is proposing," Moore said. "It's not a bad deal."

Selectmen will discuss whether they want to move forward with the proposal at their next meeting.

The town of Seabrook offered a similar proposal in 2006 but voters shot it down even though it wasn't going to cost them a dime.

The state had previously rejected an offer of donated land off Route 107 in Seabrook for a new courthouse.

The towns that would be served by a new joint court are Hampton, Hampton Falls, North Hampton, South Hampton, Seabrook, Exeter, Newmarket, Stratham, Newfields, Fremont, East Kingston, Kensington, Epping and Brentwood.

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