DA searching for new digs in Fall River

Will Richmond

With a larger staff and construction for a new relocated courthouse under way, the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office is looking for new office space.

A request for proposals through the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance’s Office of Leasing and State Planning went out Monday in an effort to secure approximately 3,400 square feet of office space.

Along with the size requirement, the space must be within  a half-mile of the new Fall River Trial Court to be located at 120 S. Main St.

The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office currently leases space at 38 Rock St., across the street from the trial court at 45 Rock St.

Bristol County District Attorney spokesman Gregg Miliote said the search for new office space is not a signal that District Attorney Sam Sutter, a Fall River resident, is seeking to move the department’s main offices from New Bedford.

Miliote said the 2,100-square-foot Rock Street office has become increasingly cramped since Sutter increased the number of assistant district attorneys working there. He added that the lease for the space used by the District Attorney’s Office is set to expire at the end of this year.

“This is unequivocally just for the District Court staff that is already in Fall River,” Miliote said. “The lease expires at the end of the year, so we decided it was time to make a decision, and the office in use now is very small.”

The District Attorney’s Office is seeking a five-year term for the new office.

Along with providing more room for staff, Miliote said, the new office space is also needed because the current location is not handicapped accessible. He said the current building was grandfathered in, allowing it to sidestep the federal disability requirements.

Miliote added that parking for the office’s employees is also an issue at the Rock Street site.

“It’s time that we start looking for a more modern office,” he said. “It just makes sense that we plan for the future and look for a property in the vicinity of the new courthouse.”

According to DCAM, construction on the new courthouse is slated to begin this month and conclude in September 2009. The new court is expected to make the current courthouse at 45 Rock St. obsolete and supplement the activities at the former Durfee High School courthouse at 294 Rock St. It will also make it possible for Superior Court criminal cases to be heard in Fall River. The Supreme Civil Court on North Main Street will also remain in operation.

“For a variety of reasons, we are looking to make the system more efficient,” Miliote said. “This move will allow us that and give us the opportunity to provide better services to victims and witnesses.”

E-mail Will Richmond of the Herald News (Fall River, Mass.) at wrichmond@heraldnews.com.