Taxpayers frustrated with New Haven Courthouse renovation - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Taxpayers frustrated with New Haven Courthouse renovation project

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NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -

Some Connecticut taxpayers are upset of the costs associated with the scaffolding at the New Haven Courthouse and why they have been paying for the project for more than a decade.

The scaffolding was erected more than 10 years ago as part of a safety measure at the courthouse, which was built in 1914.

"It's an eyesore, considering you're right across from the (New Haven) Green," said one of the court's longest serving bail bondsman, Steve Tracey.

The scaffolding and netting are designed to catch pieces of falling debris, some as large as tennis balls, and prevent them from crashing down on the sidewalk where people are walking.

In one instance, a judge was hit by a piece of concrete on the Church Street side of the building.

"It looks disgusting. They should take it down and fix it," said David Lopez of New Haven and later added. "I'm surprised after that they didn't fix it."

Years later, the repairs were still not completed. However, the costs have continued to mount because of all the delays.

In October 2002, scaffolding was put up on the Church Street side of the building, which cost $15,000, along with a rental fee of $1,000 a month for a total of $136,000 to Connecticut taxpayers.

In May 2005, scaffolding was put up on the Elm Street side of the building, which cost $75,000, along with a daily rental fee of $29 for a total of $86,319 to Connecticut taxpayers.

In total, the scaffolding has cost $222,319, which is paid by Connecticut taxpayers.

"It's not a good story, but in the interim it what was needed to be done to protect the public from falling debris," said Connecticut Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Donald DeFronzo.

The delays are being blamed on the bidding process, which took five to six years to complete, according to state officials. A red tail hawk, which is a fairly rare species, was nesting in the eves of the building as well, DeFronzo said.

By not removing the nest, it caused two years of delays.

"That contractor would not then hold his bid and required a rebidding and that rebidding didn't happen until spring of 2011," DeFronzo said.

The project is set to begin again with phase one of the project being upgrades to the outside of the building, which includes repairs to the grand stairway at the front entrance. The project is expected to cost about $4 million.

Some people are frustrated with the costs associated with project.

"Look, it's always, it's always upsetting. I was a member of the legislature, a mayor and I paid my taxes," DeFronzo said. "Anytime any state expense has to be made when we could have maybe done it a little differently or a little quicker. It's frustrating. I understand that."

The project for the New Haven Courthouse is expected to be completed in 2014, which is the 100th anniversary of the building.

"I think when 2014 rolls around you will see a much different building, certainly the scaffolding and netting will be down," DeFronzo said. "A much more attractive building."

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