Friday, August 11, 2017

Senator Markley - Why is $800 k of our money being spent on Torrington courthouse art?

Because of a 39-year-old state mandate, about $810,000 of your tax dollars must be spent on artwork for the Litchfield Judicial District Courthouse.

Meanwhile, state funding for the developmentally disabled is getting slashed.

Does that make sense to you?

Earlier this year, I proposed eliminating this outdated state mandate, but my bill proposal died in committee without a vote.

My testimony on the bill can be read here:

www.cga.ct.gov/2017/GAEdata/Tmy/2017SB-00373-R000215-Markley,%20Joe,%20State%20Senator-TMY.PDF

Please read and share the recent Waterbury Republican-American article I have attached below and send me your comments at Joe.Markley@cga.ct.gov – thank you!

 (From the Aug. 7 Waterbury Republican-American)

TORRINGTON – When it opens to the public next month, the new Litchfield Judicial District Courthouse’s four long hallways and eight courtrooms will be bare.

Artwork for the building, required by statute to soften the industrial lines and give it a local identity, is months from being incorporated.

The budget of 1 percent of the $81 million construction cost – about $810,000has been set aside, though no completion date is required.

Connecticut was the seventh state to adopt a “percent for art” law in 1978.

There are 35 states with the law today.

A committee of six judicial and nonjudicial representatives assigned to direct the expenditure was assembled last year and has met just once, last year.

Plans to tour the building in January were scuttled when construction and a planned opening earlier this year were delayed.

The group’s vision of artwork adorning the fourth floor of the building is being pursued, said Tamara Dimitri, the art and public spaces program specialist for the state Department of Administrative Services.

A meeting is expected to convene later this month or in September to review options collected by Jordan Hutton, an art consultant now under contract with the state, although no date has been set.

Dimitri said the goal is to purchase or commission artwork accessible to the public.

Any remaining funding could be dedicated to other projects, including sculpture in the front of the building and artwork in the airy first-floor lobby.

About 5 percent of the budget will be put toward maintenance of the artwork.

Another 10 percent of the budget is set aside for other reasons.

We are looking to purchase artwork from across the county,” Dimitri said.

The committee will make final picks from a list of qualified artists.

The process has been delayed by “hectic” schedules, Dimitri said.

“Scheduling can be a challenge,” she added.

No schedule has been made to hang the artwork, but it could take four months or more.

“We are being very thoughtful,” she said. “We are focused on the move first. We didn’t want to dive into the heavy-handed element of purchasing artwork.”

The 174,000-square-foot, $81 million building will draw together Superior Court and family services activities currently housed at “Part A” in Litchfield, “Part B” in Bantam and juvenile court in Torrington. The new building will incorporate criminal, civil, small claims, juvenile and motor vehicle matters under one roof.

The hallways of the late 19th-century stone courthouse on the Litchfield Green are lined with drawings of Litchfield County locations and original blueprints of the building discovered in recent years in the basement, but the building lacks a formal art project.

Large, framed portraits of judges hang in two of the old courtrooms.

It’s unclear where or if they will hang in the new building.

Administrative Judge John A. Danaher declined to comment.

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