Ul­ster County Fam­ily Court move hasty, ill­con­sid­ered

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION -

Dear Ed­i­tor, The up­com­ing Novem­ber bal­lot ref­er­en­dum regarding Ul­ster County’s pro­posal to re­lo­cate the Fam­ily Court­house has been cov­ered by the me­dia and de­bated by the pub­lic.

It is al­most un­prece­dented in New York to lo­cate its fam­ily courts out­side of county seats: 59 of 63 (94 per­cent) of fam­ily courts are sit­u­ated within their re­spec­tive county seats.

As trou­bling as the ref­er­en­dum lan­guage is, the haste and dis­re­gard with which the county has ad­dressed and pre­sented this mat­ter to the pub­lic is of gen­uine con­cern.

In­ad­e­quately stud­ied are the fol­low­ing crit­i­cal points:

• As early as July 2014, Ul­ster County was alerted by the state that the cur­rent fa­cil­i­ties at Lu­cas Av­enue were not in com­pli­ance with modern fa­cil­ity de­sign nor ac­ces­si­bil­ity stan­dards. Over a year and a half passed be­fore the county took lim­ited ac­tion. In Fe­bru­ary 2016, the county Leg­is­la­ture and county ex­ec­u­tive were again no­ti­fied that their man­dated ac­tion re­mained in­com­plete. One might won­der if de­lay was in­tended to man­u­fac­ture a cri­sis forc­ing an im­me­di­ate re­sponse, rather than a well-stud­ied and -de­bated course of ac­tion.

• The county’s “Anal­y­sis of Mov­ing Fam­ily Court to the Busi­ness Re­source Cen­ter” nar­rowly con­sid­ers the cost im­pacts of a change in phys­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties; it specif­i­cally dis­re­gards highly rel­e­vant fac­tors: Where is the traf­fic study? Where is the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact study? Have the fi­nan­cial im­pacts on sur­round­ing Kingston busi­nesses been prop­erly con­sid­ered? Over 35 at­tor­neys of­fices are only blocks from Fam­ily Court: what about trans­porta­tion costs to le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tives and their clients who would no longer be able to walk to court? We must con­sider the fi­nan­cial im­pacts of lo­cal busi­nesses forced to close or let go em­ploy­ees due to the loss of 300-400 daily shop­pers and din­ers and law of­fices that may have to move out of Kingston. Why haven’t other Kingston lo­ca­tions been stud­ied to ac­com­mo­date the man­date?

• A June 2016 “cost com­par­i­son” by the county sig­nif­i­cantly skews the costs of renovating the county-owned Busi­ness Re­source Cen­ter. It pro­vides a “project bud­get sum­mary” il­lus­trat­ing a $305-per-square-foot cost for the pro­posed lo­ca­tion and yet as­signs square-foot costs of $626, $894, and even $958 to “com­par­a­tive sites.” There are sev­eral re­cently com­pleted, sim­i­lar projects de­signed to high en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency stan­dards, con­structed at an av­er­age of $305 per square foot.

The Fam­ily Court rep­re­sents an im­por­tant civic func­tion, one that touches most ci­ti­zens‘ lives. Let’s treat the process of mod­ern­iz­ing it with due dili­gence and true vi­sion. Brad Will Kingston Ed­i­tor’s note: Brad Will is an ar­chi­tect and a for­mer, Demo­cratic al­der­man of the Third Ward in the city of Kingston.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.