NORWALK - Officials from across southwestern Connecticut gathered Tuesday to discuss how to prevent the proposed closing of the Norwalk Superior Courthouse, which is expected to have a negative impact on nearby businesses.

Entrepreneur Richard Dileo, who has owned a jewlery store near the courthouse for more than 30 years, says he lost a lot of business since the beginning of the recession, and closing the courthouse will deliver yet another blow.

"I believe it would hurt us quite a bit, especially during the lunch hours where you have the people walking around the area," Dileo says.

In addition to hurting the local merchants, the closing of the courthouse in Norwalk will pose an inconvenience to anyone seeking to settle a legal matter. The nearest courthouses are located in Stamford and Bridgeport.

Officials from Norwalk, Wilton, Weston, Westport and New Canaan say the amount of money the state is going to save by shuttering the Norwalk Superior Courthouse does not outweigh the importance of this courthouse to the entire surrounding area.

"Whether it's $300,000, $3 million or $3, it just does not make sense for the citizens of Fairfield County," says Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia.

Dileo says he and his fellow merchants on Belden Avenue are concerned for the future of their businesses if the plan to close the courthouse goes forward.

"With the economy now, you want everything you can get," Dileo says. "It's not just myself. It's everybody else here that's worrying about the people in the building here."