The future of the old Hampton District Court building will be one focus of the Hampton Board of Selectmen this year, and voters could see a warrant article at the 2013 Town Meeting calling for some kind of action in regard to the derelict structure.
Hampton selectmen discussed Monday their goals for the upcoming year, one of which is working to determine the proper fate of the old courthouse, which has been vacant for years due to code and mold issues.
An article calling for its historic preservation and one calling for its demolition were among a packet of proposed warrant article concepts reviewed by the board Monday. Selectman Mike Pierce said he'd be in favor of getting "rid" of the building, and Town Manager Fred Welch said the town does need to "analyze the issue either way," which is why he put together the proposed warrant articles.
Selectmen opted Monday to schedule a discussion about the courthouse for their Monday, May 7, meeting. Public comment is invited.
After a lengthy discussion about goals Monday, selectmen also delayed formally setting an official list until their April 16 session. Selectmen discussed a variety of goals Monday, including:
- Creating a budget that maintains a flat tax rate;
- Drafting warrant articles no later than Nov. 1 and completing the final drafts no later than Nov. 30;
- The various town meeting-approved bond projects;
- Reaching an agreement with Public Works Department union employees, the only union group currently without a contract;
- Improving technology and the town's website;
- A strong focus on capital improvement planning;
- And a public information process that focuses around the types of allowed forms of government and whether Hampton could benefit from a change.
The selectmen took small steps Monday toward getting the fire station improvement and replacement project off the ground, as they agreed to allow Fire Chief Chris Silver to take two weeks to negotiate with Boudreau Associates, the architects that developed the initial plans, on full-scale designs for the work.
They also reached a consensus to allow Silver to talk to the other five firms previously identified on a "short list" during the first architectural bid process about their cost estimates for the work, which Silver said could cost about $300,000 and would be the first step in beginning the projects.
Silver will come back before the board on April 23 to discuss the proposed engineering contract, and it is expected the next phases of the work will be discussed in greater detail at that time.