Official: Court Site Not Decided

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By Susan Morse

Hampton Union, Tuesday, May 31, 2005

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

SEABROOK -- The Seabrook Board of Selectmen has sent a strongly worded letter to Speaker of the House Douglas Scamman Jr., asking him to reconsider the town as a location for a new, combined district courthouse.

Scamman said on Friday that if the state decides to combine the Exeter and Hampton district courts into one courthouse to serve 14 towns, it doesn't make sense to locate it in Seabrook.

"We're certainly not going to have one court for 14 towns in Seabrook," he said in a message left on voice mail. "If they have want to have two separate courts, it's up to someone else to decide where they want to put them. (I'm) certainly not trying to tell anyone where to build it."

In Scamman's May 12 letter, the speaker indicated combing the Hampton and Exeter district courts into one courthouse would be desirable.

"If located on Route 101 between Exeter and Hampton, it would be quite accessible to most of the towns," Scamman said. "Peter Goodwin of the Department of Administrative Services also responded that they are in support of a consolidated court off Route 101, between Exeter and Hampton and anxious to move ahead."

Goodwin has since said because a decision has not been made on a new court site, no location is being excluded from consideration.

The town of Seabrook has offered to donate land off Route 107 for the state to build a new district court.

Goodwin said he was the not the decision-maker for a new site and referred further comment to Donald Hill, commissioner of the state Department of Administrative Services, which oversees court facilities.

Due to the holiday weekend, Hill could not be reached by deadline.

In the Seabrook board's letter, sent on May 24, selectmen took offense at being left out of negotiations.

"We had hoped that an open and impartial process would be formulated and conducted to allow for the free flow of information from all concerned but can see from your communication that the intention is otherwise," selectmen wrote to Scamman.

On Friday, Scamman said, "My intention, when I wrote the letter was to answer the selectmen of Exeter and Hampton."

Officials at administrative services are trying to determine whether there would still be two courthouses or whether the district courts would be combined into one building , Scamman said.

"(They) clearly preferred one location," he said, "... so both courts could be in the same place to have some efficiencies. It would have to be somewhere between Exeter and Hampton and, with 14 towns, that's a place easily accessible to all."

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