Council to vot­ers: Re­ject court move

City law­mak­ers op­pose re­lo­ca­tion of Fam­ily Court to town of Ul­ster

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ariél Zangla azangla@free­manon­line.com ArielAtFree­man on Twit­ter

KINGSTON >> The Com­mon Council is urg­ing a “no” vote on next week’s bal­lot propo­si­tion to move Ul­ster County Fam­ily Court from Kingston to the neigh­bor­ing town of Ul­ster.

Dur­ing a meet­ing Tues­day, the council voted 8-0 in fa­vor of a res­o­lu­tion urg­ing vot­ers to re­ject the Fam­ily Court ref­er­en­dum. The res­o­lu­tion was a last­minute ad­di­tion to the council’s agenda, but one mem­ber said it was im­por­tant to ad­dress.

“We be­lieve that it sets a bad prece­dent, that there’s the po­ten­tial to use this move from Kingston to the town of Ul­ster to move other gov­ern­ment ser­vices,” said Alder­woman Lynn Eck­ert, D-Ward 1.

Eck­ert said the pro­posed move is based on a faulty fea­si­bil­ity study that did not con­sider other vi­able lo­ca­tions in the city of Kingston.

Eck­ert, who pro­posed the council res­o­lu­tion, said mov­ing Fam­ily Court from 16 Lu­cas Ave. in Kingston to the coun­ty­owned Busi­ness Re­source Cen­ter on Ul­ster Av­enue in the town of Ul­ster would be far more costly than the county sim­ply buy­ing the cur­rent leased build­ing and ren­o­vat­ing it.

“And, for all of those rea­sons,

we think it’s a bad de­ci­sion, not just for the vot­ers here in Kingston, but for the ci­ti­zens through­out Ul­ster County,” Eck­ert said.

Al­der­man Tony Davis, DWard 6, said at­tor­neys who prac­tice in the Fam­ily Court pre­fer the Lu­cas Av­enue lo­ca­tion and that there is con­cern about the avail­abil­ity of park­ing at the Busi­ness Re­source Cen­ter, which is in a com­plex that houses nu­mer­ous county em­ploy­ees.

Kingston Mayor Steve Noble en­dorsed the council’s ac­tion.

“I agree with the Com­mon Council,” Noble said af­ter the meet­ing, adding that al­low­ing the court move could be the start of a “slip­pery slope.”

Noble also said the city could work with the county to find a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion for Fam­ily Court within Kingston.

State law man­dates that county court fa­cil­i­ties be in the county seat, which in Ul­ster County is Kingston. Mov­ing a county court out of the seat re­quires ap­proval by the county’s vot­ers.

Ul­ster County has been un­der pres­sure since 2013 to pro­vide ad­e­quate fa­cil­i­ties for Fam­ily Court. In 2014, Deputy County Ex­ec­u­tive Robert Sud­low told law­mak­ers the Lu­cas Av­enue build­ing’s owner had de­vel­oped a $7 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion plan, though that num­ber was changed to $6 mil­lion in 2015. That price in­cluded the pur­chase of the build­ing.

In 2016, the idea of ren­o­vat­ing the build­ing was no longer be­ing pre­sented by Ul­ster County Ex­ec­u­tive Michael Hein’s ad­min­is­tra­tion as an op­tion.

The cost of ren­o­va­tions at the town of Ul­ster site also has been a mov­ing tar­get, with a first study sug­gest­ing a $4.7 mil­lion price tag, while a 2016 study pegged the cost, in 2018 dol­lars, at $10.4 mil­lion.

In ad­di­tion to adopt­ing the Fam­ily Court res­o­lu­tion, council mem­bers plan to use ad­ver­tis­ing to urge a “no” on the ref­er­en­dum. They plan to place a news­pa­per ad and use so­cial me­dia and the city web­site.

FILE PHOTO BY TONY ADAMIS

Ul­ster County Fam­ily Court cur­rently is housed in this build­ing at 16 Lu­cas Ave. in Kingston.

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