SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance announced in a letter to the trial court that it plans to hire a consultant to conduct a site assessment and feasibility study of constructing a new courthouse in Springfield.
After a report revealed potentially cancer-causing mold in the building, Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi stopped sending inmates to the Roderick Ireland courthouse. Judges, attorneys, and court workers have pushed for a new courthouse; the agency had previously said the building would undergo a major renovation by 2024.
“I am pleased that the Commonwealth is taking the first step toward consideration of a new courthouse in Springfield. I am hopeful that as the process unfolds, it will make as much fiscal sense as it does common sense to construct a new building that provides a healthy environment for the pursuit of justice in Western Massachusetts,” Cocchi said.
Monday night the Agawam City Council met to vote on a resolution concerning the toxic environment at the Roderick Ireland Courthouse. The council unanimously voted to send a copy of their resolution to the trial court and the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance.
Councilors told 22News they hope other local communities will follow suit.
The state plans to start dehumidification in June but the lawyer 22News spoke with said the Roderick Ireland Courthouse needs to be shut down immediately.
“That proposal does not get rid of the toxic mold in the building right now so what is going to happen in the short term to make sure people are safe going into the courthouse,” said Laura Mangini, who is part of a group of lawyers suing to have the building shut down. Her team put out the report.
In March, Mayor Sarno offered to help the state temporarily relocate court services in Springfield. He said now with the possibility of a new courthouse, this could be an opportunity to redevelop prime real estate in downtown.
“Maybe reach out to MGM. Spread their footprint that they have. But then to have another site in downtown Springfield which we’d like to help facilitate,” said Mayor Sarno.
22News asked Mayor Sarno if he had heard back from the state since he offered to help with relocation, he said he had not yet heard back.