By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, January 14, 2005
HAMPTON - Selectman Cliff Pratt wants to keep the District Court in Hampton, even if it means moving court officials to Town Hall on a temporary basis.
"I don't want to see us lose it," said Pratt. "I'd love to do something to keep them in Hampton."
Pratt's suggestion, however, didn't go over well with the rest of the board.
The state Court Accreditation Committee has voted to move personnel out of the courthouse on Winnacunnet Road to a temporary location, saying the facility is unsafe, not handicapped-accessible and causing health problems for employees.
Where the workers will end up is undetermined.
So far, the state has rejected five sites proposed in Hampton.
And now Seabrook is trying to move the temporary court to its town by offering the library and the fire station as possible sites. See related story.
The board said although it was against Pratt's suggestion, it is in favor of keeping the courthouse in town, even if that means continuing to seek other locations to house a temporary court.
William "Skip" Sullivan, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said he was against Pratt's idea for safety reasons.
Pratt said he made the suggestion because the town needs to do something.
"I just felt that we needed to do something so we can move forward," said Pratt.
By finding a temporary location in town, it may entice the state to build a new courthouse in Hampton, Pratt said.
The temporary location will be used until a permanent site is chosen that combines the Hampton and Exeter courts.
Plans are for the courthouse to be built somewhere within the communities it serves.
Those plans are on hold because several local officials don't want to see the Hampton and Exeter courts combined.
Former Sen. Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, sponsored an amendment that temporarily prevented consolidation of the Exeter and Hampton courts.