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Engineer: Energy savings won’t pay for new court after all

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Southold Town will need to find a new way to pay for upgrades to its justice court, engineer Michael Collins said this week, because savings from potential energy efficiencies to the town won’t cut it. 

Last summer, town officials agreed to let a utility company conduct an audit of several town buildings and determine where upgrades could enhance efficiency and reduce energy costs.

Those savings, plus energy credits, could have been used to replace the Southold Town Justice Court, which has long been the source of criticism due to cramped conditions, safety concerns and a lack of space for jurors and conferences alike.

But at last Tuesday morning’s Town Board work session, Mr. Collins said an energy efficiency assessment found the savings wouldn’t cover the costs of an upgraded justice court, as had been expected.

Mr. Collins said it would take 15 years to recoup the value of the energy efficiency improvements in Town Hall.

The town has considering replacing its existing justice court portable offices with five new ones placed perpendicular to the main Town Hall building, jutting out an additional 12 feet into the parking lot. The new offices would include a jury room, more bathrooms and a separate entrance for judges. The six parking spaces behind the current court would be lost under the plan, but could be added elsewhere on town property.

The town has no immediate plan to fund the project another way.

Caption: Southold Town Justice Court Director Leanne Reilly thumbs through files in the court’s conference room. (Credit: Paul Squire)

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