Bar News - August 19, 2015
Court News: Merrimack County Courthouse Funding Approved
By: Dan Wise
After many years of discussions about the need for a new Merrimack County courthouse, the New Hampshire Legislature included funding for the court construction project in the stateís recently approved capital budget.
The capital budget includes $16.6 million to build a new courthouse on a vacant lot on Hazen Drive in Concord near the NH Supreme Court and Administrative Office of the Courts buildings. The plan is to build a two-story building with three courtrooms (with the capability of adding a fourth courtroom if ever needed) for the superior court, which would vacate the aging but historic county-owned building on North Main Street in Concord. The probate court, which is housed in a separate building next to the existing courthouse, would not relocate.
Steve Lorentzen, administrator of plant and property management for the NH Department of Administrative Services, said that a schedule for the project, including requests for proposals from architects, will likely be announced in the fall. With the site already selected, design and construction usually takes 18 to 24 months to complete for a project of this scale, he said.
Some Concord city leaders at times have urged that a new courthouse should be kept downtown. Gov. Maggie Hassanís budget proposal encouraged the consideration of a downtown site, but the Legislature opted for the solution proposed by the NH Judicial Branch: building on the vacant state-owned lot in an area where parking will not be an issue.
The capital budget also includes funding for design and engineering for two Circuit Court buildings in Milford ($365,000) and Hampton ($300,000).
The Milford building would replace leased quarters; the Hampton courthouse would provide a home to the court now sitting in Seabrook. Lorentzen said the capital budget also includes $600,000 to acquire a site for the Hampton courthouse.
Learn more about the project.