Improving Access For Families And Protecting Taxpayers
KINGSTON, N.Y. – Today, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein was joined by Hon. Michael V. Coccoma, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Courts Outside New York City; Hon. Thomas A. Breslin, Administrative Judge for the Third Judicial District; Hon. Elizabeth A. Garry, Presiding Justice of the New York Appellate Division, Third Department; Hon. Karen K. Peters, NY Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, Former Justice of the New York Appellate Division, Third Department; Ulster County Family Court Judges Hon. Marianne O. Mizel, Anthony McGinty, and Keri E Savona; Ulster County Legislators; various court dignitaries; local officials; and members of the community for a dedication ceremony to announce the opening of the Ulster County Family Court at its new location at 2 Development Court, Kingston, New York, adjacent to the Ulster County Department of Social Services.
The county-owned property was refurbished into a state-of-the-art Family Court facility and is strategically located so that family members attending court have access to the County’s children and family specialists at the Department of Social Services (DSS). This project was recently called the gold standard by which other Family courts will be measured by the New York State Office of Court Administration. The Ulster County Family Court officially opened on November 9, 2018, six weeks ahead of schedule and $500,000 under budget.
Michael P. Hein, Ulster County Executive
“Family Court is about real people and complex issues that can alter the course of lives forever, and this renovated facility will now provide them with dignity and respect and is now able to provide our Judges and court personnel with improved accommodations to better assist them in performing their important work. In addition, locating the court next to DSS is helping to make the process more efficient for those most in need by having professional services readily available,” said County Executive Mike Hein. “We were able relocate family court to this location through a series of inter-connected projects which included: the retrofit of a closed elementary school into a community college satellite campus and moving our existing programs there; then relocating multiple county departments to free up much needed space, and lastly, retrofitting this strategically located County-owned space into a state-of-the-art Family Court facility which was completed ahead of schedule and $500,000 under budget. Not only did we save taxpayers money in this way, but by deciding not to spend over $20 million to construct a new family court elsewhere and by renovating a county-owned property, it saved Ulster County taxpayers over $10 million.”
County Executive Mike Hein continued, “I want to thank the New York State Office of Court Administration, the County Legislature, the architects and contractors, as well as our incredible team at our Department of Public Works for their amazing work to make this new court facility a reality. I also want to thank the public who overwhelmingly supported the relocation of the family court in 2016. The opening of the Family Court at its new location comes at the perfect time as our new Restorative Justice and Community Empowerment Center is scheduled to open in January to serve “justice-involved” youth as they work in coordination with Family Court, and “at-risk” youth through my Brighter Futures Initiative to help confront generational poverty.”
Hon. Karen K. Peters, NY Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, Former Justice of the New York Appellate Division, Third Department
“I appreciate the efforts of Ulster County and County Executive Mike Hein in achieving this goal. With this extraordinary new courthouse, we fulfill our commitment to ensuring all who come before the court are treated with dignity and respect,” said Hon. Karen K. Peters, NY Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, Former Justice of the New York Appellate Division, Third Department.
The state-of-the-art courthouse has been designed to accommodate the needs of litigants, attorneys, court personnel and other court users. The facility, which formerly housed a satellite campus for Ulster County Community College, was fully renovated to include: four large courtrooms; two hearing rooms; customized space for attorney-client conferences; a court clerk’s area that allows for privacy in dealing with sensitive matters; a Children’s Center that offers child care for court users; offices for County agencies that interact with Family Court; infrastructure to facilitate the Court’s Drug Treatment Part; and spacious, well-appointed public areas to ensure the smooth flow of court users through the space. The new courthouse will serve as a model for other Family Court facilities in the Third Judicial District, which along with Ulster County encompasses Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Schoharie, and Sullivan counties.
The New York State Office of Court Administration (NYSOCA) deemed the previous leased space at 16 Lucas Avenue, Kingston, inadequate and inefficient to properly accommodate the current workload and the projected future workload of the Court. They directed Ulster County to find a larger, more secure and more efficient space to meet today’s Family Court needs. The public overwhelming supported the relocation of the Family Court through a public referendum held in 2016.
Pictured above: 1) Hon. Michael Coccoma, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Hon. Thomas Breslin, Hon. Karen Peters and Hon. Elizabeth A. Garry unveil the building dedication plaque at the grand opening of the new Ulster County Family Court. 2) Ulster County Executive Hein and Ulster County Family Court Judges Marianne Mizel, Anthony McGinty and Keri Savona at the grand opening of the new Ulster County Family Court.
Pictured below: Ulster County Legislator Laura Petit, Ulster County Legislator Hector Rodriguez, Hon. Karen Peters, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Ulster County Legislator/Chairman Kenneth Ronk, Ulster County Legislator Kathy Nolan, Hon. Elizabeth A. Garry, and Ulster County Legislator Herbert Litts at the grand opening of the new Ulster County Family Court.