Borough preparing to move probate court

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By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

Naugatuck officials plan to move the Naugatuck Probate Court from Town Hall to this building at 150 Meadow St. -JIM SHANNON/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — Officials are planning to move the Naugatuck Probate Court office to a building on Meadow Street to free up some space at Town Hall.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses on April 6 authorized Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess to sign a lease to rent space for the court in the mixed-use building at 150 Meadow St. owned by Robert Matusz.

The borough will pay $33,600 in rent annually for five years with an additional five-year option, said Hess, who anticipated signing the lease in the next couple of weeks after finalizing the details.

“The reason for it is there’s a space needs crunch in the Town Hall,” Hess said. “The best entity to leave is the probate court.”

Hess said the court’s office will mostly be used by the building department after the move, and the engineering department will also use some space.

The plan is to move the court over the summer.

Wellmore Behavioral Health, a Waterbury-based private nonprofit that provides mental and behavioral health services, used to lease the space at 150 Meadow St. for an office. A fire broke out in the office in June 2019, forcing Wellmore to relocate the office.

Hess said the office space is being fixed to suit the court’s needs.

The probate court serves Naugatuck, Middlebury, Prospect and Beacon Falls. The new office space, including the garage which will be used as the probate court’s vault, will basically double the court’s space to about 2,800 square feet, according to officials.

There are five dedicated parking spaces behind the building for the probate court, Borough Attorney Ned Fitzpatrick said, as well as additional parking on Hillside Avenue.

The additional space would allow for consolidation of other towns into the probate court, Probate Court Chief Clerk Jennifer Finlay said.

The move will increase the probate court’s budget about $50,000 to $71,325 next fiscal year. The increase includes rent, utility costs and a one-time moving fee of $4,000.

The borough pays 57% of the budget, while Middlebury pays 14%, Prospect 18% and Beacon Falls 11%, Finlay said.

Officials have searched for about a year and a half for a new location for the probate court.

“If we’re going to do it, this is the most logical way to do it and the best deal by far that we located after a search of more than a year,” Hess said.

Burgess Robert Neth said during an April 5 budget workshop that the move is needed and the new location is a “no-brainer.”

“I know that there’s been a few people that have looked at the variety of different locations over the last year and a half,” he said. “This seems like its best location. It’s still downtown, plenty of parking.”