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Penn Yan considers moving night court

PENN YAN—Several years ago, Penn Yan village court was held in the police station on Basin Street. The building was not suitable for that use and when the former Norstar Bank building on Main Street was donated to the village, village court was moved there. This building also has some drawbacks including only one entrance, and the lack of a private area for lawyers to meet with clients. An additional concern has been the sometimes large groups of people congregating outside the building on court nights which several merchants have expressed concern about over the years.
During the Aug. 18 meeting of the Penn Yan Village Board, trustee Nancy Taylor told the board the final report of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice System has been received and it contains essentially the same material as the draft document. The court was one segment of the report.
There are three main proposals; dissolve village court, move the court to the basement of the village office building or move court to the Yates County courthouse.  Mayor Douglas Marchionda Jr. said Yates County has indicated the cost for the village court to be in the Yates County courthouse would be $30,000 a year. He said he did not feel that was a realistic figure, stating, “I do not have a positive definition of what we will do with the court. I didn’t think it was a viable option. Village court should be able to go into county court at little or no cost. It is our courthouse. We pay taxes for it. In the spirit of cooperation we should be able to use it.”
Taylor responded,  “There are a couple of other options. I agree with Doug; dissolve village court whenever we wish or put the Maxwell Building up for sale. Put court in the basement here and monitor it for the two or there years to see if it is feasible to have it there. Dan (Judge Dan Hibbard) has access to all kind of grants.” Taylor said she personally doesn’t think Yates County will back off on the cost and that it could be higher. She said, “This has dragged on for a long time and I think it should be concluded.”
Marchionda said he agreed with Taylor and that he wanted to take an educated look to see if the village court is a financial drain.
Trustee Bob Church said he also agreed with Taylor, commenting, “Even if we choose to dissolve the court we would have to pay the judge for three years because it is an elected position. My recommendation is to declare the Maxwell Building surplus and put it on the market. Continue talks with Yates County and put court in the basement here and monitor it, then make a decision.”
Trustee Robert Hoban said the board had not discussed the matter since January. Church responded a letter had been sent to the county and they are willing to discuss it. Marchionda reminded the board that when approached, the Town of Milo was not interested in consolidation, which was suggested as a possibility earlier. Hoban said he thinks Yates County is not a dead issue.
Near the conclusion of the discussion, Taylor added, “In all fairness to the county, that $30,000 cost could be reduced if village court was held in the daytime. Dan Hibbard is against it because he works. There are two and a half years until the end of Dan’s term. By then there could be an entirely different group ‘up the street’ to discuss it.”
Later Church commented, “If we have to go to the village hall the cost would be minimal. Chief Hulse has done some figures for me.” Church noted there would no longer be maintenance or utility costs for the Maxwell Building if court was moved to the village hall. He asked the board for permission to have Deputy Public Works Director Richard Osgood to get estimates to have the Maxwell Building painted, noting, “We have the money to have it painted. I don’t want to have the worst looking building on Main Street, It’s not fair to our merchants who take care of their buildings for us to have the worst looking building on Main Street. We need to do this immediately.” The board agreed to bids being sought, but Marchionda said he would like to wait to make a decision about selling the Maxwell Building.

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