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Monday, February 25, 2008

State targets courthouse with funding

By James Tinley
Register Staff
— The expansion of the courthouse is one step closer to reality with the announcement that $225,000 in state funds to study the project will likely be headed Milford’s way.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell and House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford, said the funds for studying the “impact and feasibility” of the courthouse expansion are expected to be approved when the state Bond Commission meets Friday.
The building, on West River Street, houses Superior Court.
The plan will likely include expanding the courthouse into the existing post office on West River Street and adding a multi-level parking garage that will sit behind the structure, said Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. Another downtown site will be found for the post office, Richetelli said.
“This announcement signals that expanding the courthouse remains a priority for the state,” Richetelli said.
Amann said the capacity of the existing courthouse is being stretched by the growing communities it serves. The money will be used for preliminary plans for the courthouse’s physical layout to meet the parking, courtroom and office space that is required.
Richetelli said the addition of a parking garage will not only ease parking woes for people who use the courthouse, but he is hopeful it will also be used by commuters from the nearby Metro-North train station.
He added that Milford has always been given a seat at the planning table with the state Department of Transportation and the Judicial Branch to make sure the plans fit with the “colonial New England charm” of Milford’s downtown.
At the very least, the existing façade of the post office will be maintained and the parking garage won’t be a “towering monstrosity,” he said. It will be lower in height and situated behind the courthouse, he said. The project is expected to cost the state $10 million.


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