PORT HENRY - Moriah has a plan to expand its court house.
Champlain Valley Tec students will construct a 576 square feet addition at the current court building to help the town meet a state mandate.
Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said CV-Tec instructors Tom Rodriguez and Kevin Shaw have agreed to make the court expansion a student project. The town will lay the foundation this summer and students will erect the addition starting in September.
"It's a great learning experience for the kids and it saves the taxpayers," Scozzafava said. "I don't see any other possible way we could afford it."
New York State has mandated court expansion in Moriah since 2008.
"I think we can do it with the money we've received from the (state) Office of Court Administration," Scozzafava said. "It'll be a good experience for the students and it fits our budget."
The state Office of Court Administration has promised Moriah nearly $50,000 for the construction.
No one can blame Moriah residents if they're confused about the court project.
Steven Gold of the New York State Office of Court Administration told the Moriah town board in June 2008 the present 12x14 foot room that serves as Moriah town court is inadequate and must be addressed.
The town had plans to erect its own modular building to house its court and police department adjacent to the town hall at Park Place in Port Henry. That project was shelved when the cost soared.
Originally expected to cost about $170,000, estimates for a new court building reached as high as $500,000 because of state regulations and mandates. Scozzafava believed the final cost would be about $300,000.
Town trustees then considered several short-term solutions to the court situation, including renting space. Officials felt they had found space, the Mountaintime Furniture Building on Broad Street in Port Henry, but found it would cost $200,000 to bring the building up to state court code.
Finally - or it seemed at the time - the Moriah town board voted unanimously a year ago to ignore a state order to construct a new house, citing affordability.
Then, hoping to get federal funding, Moriah officials noted the possibility of reviving a years-old plan to construct a joint municipal building with the village of Port Henry to house town court and police along with the village fire department. That initial plan fell apart when a suitable location and timetable for construction couldn't be found.