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Fleeing heat, Northport Village court moves to American Legion Post

Judge Senzer at the main entrance of the

Judge Senzer at the main entrance of the American Legion in Northport on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Daniel Rader

Northport's judge has moved court operations out of Village Hall because of sweltering conditions this summer.

Judge Paul Senzer said that, with a broken air conditioning system in the building, temperatures in the courtroom had risen to 86 degrees in recent weeks. So he moved the weekly court sessions to the American Legion hall across the street.

"The litigants and attorneys were so utterly drenched with perspiration that they were unable to function," said Senzer, who is running for Huntington District Court. He has been the village judge for 20 years.

He said he was also concerned for the health of some people, especially those with pre-existing conditions.

"Part of my obligation is to make sure I have a secure space for the public to convene," he said.

Senzer called James Mahoney at the Northport American Legion Post 694, who said they could hold court operations at the newly renovated Legion hall -- which is air-conditioned.

"We did it on a handshake . . . and I was elated to report to the village administration that this is being done at no expense," Senzer said.

Mahoney said he was happy to help. "These are the people right in our village. . . . We felt it was the right thing to do," he said.

Northport attorney Ed Yule, who said he has attended village court for two decades, said the conditions in the Village Hall courtroom were "intolerable."

"There is serious business going on there and no one is able to concentrate," Yule said. "The judge is absolutely right. . . . We had to get out of there."

Court has been held every Monday in the Village Hall meeting room to address violations ranging from speeding to felonies. The same schedule will be kept in the Legion hall.

Senzer said he would have been willing to "tough it out . . . if I knew the fix was on the horizon."

Mayor George Doll said village officials were "happy that the judge was able to move to a place with AC because everyone will be more comfortable."

Deputy Mayor Henry Tobin said Monday the village is working to replace the 50-year-old system.

Until then, Doll said the village board of trustees, planning board, zoning board, architectural review board and the Asharoken court will continue to operate out of Village Hall.

"We're grinning and bearing . . . just like the old days," he said.

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