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Monticello Needs a Bigger Court

By Andy Simek
MONTICELLO — June 8, 2007 — For those who haven’t been paying attention, the Village of Monticello has been cracking down on crime.
According to Village Manager Ray Nargizian’s report at Monday’s regular Village Board meeting, there have been over 400 arrests made since January 1st of this year.
This is a clear indication that their new crime prevention program is working well – perhaps a little too well, however.
According to Monticello Mayor Jim Barnicle, the ever-increasing number of court cases, coupled with an increasing number of high-profile cases, has rendered the current courthouse obsolete.
“Now we need a courthouse with a minimum of 150 seats and a secure area,” Barnicle said.
The current courthouse simply cannot hold that amount of people, according to the board, and the renovations going on there have made the building insecure as far as prisoners are concerned.
The board’s solution: hold a temporary court in the basement of the Senior Center.
Board members and the community alike seemed displeased by the decision, but there seemed to be no better option.
Roz Scaroff, president of the Monticello Senior Association, said, “You knew for a long while that you’d have to move from the courthouse, but you still don’t have a decent plan.
“Housing the court in the recreation center,” she continued, “is just taking away space from the citizens of the village.”
This brought up talk of a new, multi-use complex that the village wants to erect, which combines all the functions of the various village government buildings, such as the court, the police and fire stations and the offices for the village board itself.
This was cause for even more outcry.
“We don’t have enough money in the village to complete a project like that,” noted Carmen Rue.
She added that any extra money the village has should be used to clean up the litter and the pollution that has been such an eyesore to the community for so long.
Nargizian commented that any money that would be put towards the new facility would be from state-awarded grants.
Resigned to use the cheapest and most convenient solution, Village Trustee Gordon Jenkins said, “I’m not sure if you all know how tapped this village is. We don’t have the money to rent a building or to erect a new one just yet. I don’t really want to use the senior center for this, but we don’t really have any other choice.”
In the end, the board voted in a 3-2 decision to temporarily house the courthouse in the basement of the recreation center, a process that will not, according to the board, interfere with regular usage of the building.
Voting to move the court were Trustees Scott Schoonmaker, Gordon Jenkins and Mayor Barnicle. Those who voted “nay” were Trustees Brian VanDermark and Victor Marinello.

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