A new $65 million York County consolidated courthouse will be built in Biddeford to replace an aging courthouse in Alfred that officials say has not met the needs of the court for years.

The York County Courthouse Site Selection Commission on Friday unanimously chose one of two proposed Biddeford sites for the courthouse, which will consolidate existing District Courts in Biddeford, Springvale and York with the Superior Court currently located in Alfred. The Maine Legislature this year approved borrowing $95 million to build or renovate courthouses in York, Oxford and Knox counties.

The courthouse will be built on a 12-acre parcel along Route 1, known locally as the Pate property, that will be purchased from the city of Biddeford. The city purchased the lot in 2014 for $650,000 with plans to use it to access other parcels of city-owned land.

“This is something that is monumental and unlike something we’ve seen before in terms of courts in York County,” said Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant. “The entire gateway (to Biddeford) along Route 1 is going to change dramatically.”

The site selection commission, composed primarily of judges, lawmakers, attorneys and members of law enforcement, voted 12-6 in favor of locating the new courthouse in Biddeford instead of Alfred. Commissioners then unanimously chose the Pate property over a proposed location on Barra Road.

Sen. Linda Valentino, a Saco Democrat who sat on the selection commission and co-sponsored the bill to fund the project, said 28 locations across York County were considered during the selection process. After narrowing the potential sites to seven, the commission ultimately decided to choose between two Biddeford locations and a site in Alfred not far from the current courthouse, she said. Biddeford is the population center of York County and is easily accessible by both Route 1 and the Maine Turnpike, Valentino noted.


“They wanted a place that people would know where it is,” she said. “People will know exactly where this courthouse is and it will be easy to get to.”

The Alfred courthouse was built in 1806, expanded in the 1850s and then rebuilt in 1934 following a fire. The courthouse is overcrowded, poses security risks, has no conference room and has courtrooms that are not equipped with necessary technology, according to a feasibility report released in February.

The new courthouse will take about three years to build, but will ultimately allow the judicial system to stop using the small District Courts in Biddeford, Springvale and York that are harder to get to and do not have adequate space. Officials believe it will speed up cases that currently take longer than in other counties because of a shortage of courtrooms.

Now that a site for the courthouse has been selected, the Maine Judicial Branch and the city of Biddeford will need to finalize the sale of the Pate property before the construction phase can begin. Valentino said the land will be purchased for $650,000 and the city will retain the smaller parcel across the street from the courthouse site.

Casavant said he anticipates the new courthouse will benefit the city in a number of ways, including making it more convenient for local residents to access the court system. He said he expects that the new judicial center will also draw law offices and other court-related businesses to the city.

“A $65 million project like this doesn’t happen too often,” he said.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.