Work Stops on Luxury Albany Apts for NY Appeals Court Judges Due to Budget Woes
Posted Apr 21, 2011 10:26 AM CST
By Martha Neil
A luxury apartment project intended to provide housing in Albany for New York Court of Appeals judges when they are at work in the state's capital has been halted due to budget woes.
The renovation of part of a former convent donated to the state by the county into housing for appellate jurists "looked reasonable in more comfortable times, but less so now," court spokesman Gary Spencer told Reuters Legal earlier this week.
He said the decision to suspend work had been made in February but was never publicly announced. It isn't clear whether the project will be competed at a later date, notes the New York Law Journal.
The state spends about $37,500 annually to house appellate judges in hotel rooms in Albany, the Reuters article says. Renovating the 30,000-square-foot building reportedly is to cost around $23 million; however, it appears that only a portion of that amount may be spent on the apartments, with the rest going toward offices that can be used by others.
Although the Centennial Hall project was criticized as overly opulent, former Chief Judge Judith Kaye, who served from 1993 to 2008, said it was intended to provide a secure living situation for the seven jurists very close to the appellate court "where you could leave a toothbrush and other personal effects" during the 66 days it is in session each year.
Required to cut its 2012 budget by $170 million, the state's judicial branch is currently planning layoffs and shortened court hours, among other cost-cutting measures.
ABAJournal.com: "As Lawmakers Wield Budget Ax, Courts Struggle to Do More with Less, Plan Layoffs"
ABAJournal.com: "New York Judges Told to Close Courtrooms a Half-Hour Earlier to Scale Back Costs"