July 25, 2008
Town Offices may be renovated


GOFFSTOWN - The town hall could be due for its first renovation in almost 20 years.

The town might revamp its basement after the Goffstown District Court moves out of there and into a Hillsborough County building on Mast Road. The court is expected to depart by the beginning 2009, although a definite date has not been announced.

The move will provide more space to the town offices for Goffstown. Town Administrator Sue Desruisseaux said the town is hiring a consultant to evaluate where the various offices should be located in the town hall, at an estimated cost of $10,000. This has not yet gone out to bid.

“We’re going to look at the whole redesign aspect, primarily downstairs, but it may impact what goes on upstairs too,” Desruisseaux said. “I think it’s worth that investment to get a professional opinion.”

In the town hall today are the town offices for planning, zoning, building, finance, administration, the town clerk, assessor and tax collector. No decision has been made as to which offices will be moving into the space vacated by the district court.

Desruisseaux said the town needs more space for its offices. There also is a demand for more room for board and committee meetings. The last time there was any significant renovation was in 1989, said Desruisseaux.

The Mildred Stark Fund has been used in the past for maintenance and improvements to town buildings. Desruisseaux said the trustees of the trust funds will be approached again to request use of that money to hire a consultant. If the request is denied, the cost for the consultant would come out of taxpayers’ pockets.

The district court will be getting double the space it now has. The court occupies 3,300 square feet in the town hall basement. In December or January, its new home will be 7,200 square feet on the second floor of the Bouchard Building, next to the state prison for women and across Mast Road from the Goffstown Police Department.

Stephen Lorentzen, who is in charge of court facilities for the state, described the move as a winwin for the town and the court. “I think it will be a very nice space and be very good for everybody,” Lorentzen said.

The district court serves the towns of Goffstown, Francestown, New Boston and Weare. It handles misdemeanor cases and felonies up to probable cause hearings. Small claims, such as landlord-tenant disputes, are also heard in the court. The bulk of the cases that come through involve traffic violations, according to Robin Pinelle, the clerk.

The larger facility will allow the district court to have two courtrooms – one for adults and one for juveniles. It will also have more room for defendants to sign in with the court clerk. In addition, it will have space for a magnetized metal detector and a couple of holding cells.

Lorentzen said the need for more space was the main factor in the move. Discussion of the relocation has been going on for years, with several other sites considered, he said. At least one other site was on Mast Road.

Hillsborough County, which owns the building where the district court will be, is renovating part of the second floor for about $800,000. Construction was scheduled to begin this week. Most of it should be done by late November.

The district court will be paying $150,000 for the first year in rent, with an increase of 3 percent every year after that, according to Gregory Wenger, the county administrator. The lease is for five years, but Wenger said the court will be a tenant for a while. “The expectation is that this will be a long-term relationship,” he said.

Pinelle said the new location would be more convenient for the public, especially since the Hillsborough County sheriff’s office is on the first floor. Aside from the added security, the county sheriff works closely with the court serving papers to defendants in some cases.

“With us in the building, it’s kind of one-stop shopping for people,” Pinelle said.

– Sarah Lebrun contributed to this story.



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