Most residents, or at least those who have been issued a parking or speeding ticket, know the Southampton Town Justice Court is located in the lower level of Town Hall, but in two weeks this department will relocate to a new space in Hampton Bays. As the justice court prepares for the move, the town renovations committee, in conjunction with the town board, is in the midst of deciding what to do with the vacant space.
Town board members floated ideas of housing the town’s army of auditors in the court’s former offices. However, deputy supervisor Bill Jones pointed out that moving a whole department isn’t as simple as packing up boxes.
“There are substantial costs involved to refit the justice court to fit the needs of any individual department,” said Jones.
Town supervisor Linda Kabot remarked that town hall is already “packed to the gills.”
“I believe we should hire an outside firm to do an assessment of our spatial needs,” Jones added, saying outside specialists will direct the town on the best use of the office space.
Last year the committee interviewed architecture firms who specialize in these kinds of assessments, but their services came with price tags ranging from $30,000 to $70,000 for a complete study of the town’s spatial needs. With limited funds available for an extensive renovation, some board members believe it’s an inopportune time to spend money on outside consultants.
“If the economy stays slow for a couple years, we can’t do a big renovation,” said councilwoman Sally Pope, who believes the preliminary assessment work could be done in-house through a questionnaire distributed to each department. Although divided on hiring an outside consultant, the board seemed to endorse Pope’s idea for now and said the town and the committee could start to create questions.
“I think we need a consultant, but at least we are starting the data gathering,” Kabot said.