SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Roderick Ireland Courthouse in downtown Springfield is dealing with more potential health and safety issues. Along with the ongoing mold problems, there is now a sewage backup in the courthouse.
According to a spokesperson for the Hampden County Registry of Deeds’ office, the backup, which has been an issue since Monday, is on the fourth floor of the building and is causing sewage to leak from ceiling tiles onto offices on the second and third floors of the building.
“This building is toxic. It is falling apart. It’s one thing after another,” said Hampden County Register of Deeds Cheryl Coakley-Rivera.
“It appears to be all of the operational needs of the building itself, the mechanical things, they keep malfunctioning and it’s very disheartening and frustrating,” said Rosemary Saccomani, the Register of Propate.
Saccomani and Laura Gentile, the Hampden County Clerk of Courts, said they both have to keep much of their operations still in that courthouse.
“I don’t think the trial court is out to get us,” said Gentile. “We need to just sit down and figure out a plan and move forward.”
22News reached out to the trial court for further comment and they sent us the following statement:
“Monday morning there was a backup in a vertical sewer pipe. It backed up through the floor drains in the two third floor grand jury room bathrooms. It puddled around the drain and leaked through the ceiling to the second floor below, damaging ceiling tiles and the carpets of two offices. A drain company came on Monday afternoon and cleared the drain blockage. The Trial Court Facilities Department cleaned and sanitized the bathrooms, replaced the ceiling tiles, and cleaned and sanitized the carpets Monday night, and will replace the carpets as soon as possible.“Trial Court Spokesperson Erika Gully-Santiago
Gully Santiago also said there are currently no plans to relocate court operations at this time.
This comes just days after a group of lawyers suing to have the courthouse closed released a report on mold inside the building, saying it is toxic and potentially cancer-causing.
The Trial Court of the Commonwealth, which operates the courthouse, says the building is safe after doing their own study. The Trial Court does not plan to replace the structure with a new courthouse, and will instead be moving forward with a “comprehensive rehabilitation and renovation plan,” which includes new windows, a new roof, and a new HVAC system.
Currently, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department is not sending inmates to the courthouse over concerns about the building’s safety, and is instead having them participate remotely in hearings.
On Wednesday afternoon, candidate for Attorney General Shannon Liss-Riordan joined Hampden County Register of Deeds Cheryl Coakley-Rivera and the business manager of a union representing courthouse workers held a news conference to call for the building’s closure:
Photos: Mold found in Springfield courthouse in August 2021
Mayor Sarno sent 22News a statement on the deplorable conditions at the Courthouse:
“After consultation with City Solicitor Judge John Payne, who is very knowledgeable with the continued environmental issues at the Roderick L. Ireland Courthouse, and Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris, the City of Springfield does not have any jurisdiction or authority over this state building and Trial Court matter, which has thoroughly frustrated and aggravated myself, Solicitor Payne and Commissioner Caulton-Harris by the Trial Courts lax and time sensitive in-action.
My administration has meet twice with First Justice Kevin Maltby and Clerk Magistrate John Gay to discuss how we swiftly addressed the COVID-19 pandemic by retrofitting all our city and school buildings. Parks, Buildings and Recreational Management (PBRM) Director Patrick Sullivan, Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris, Industrial Hygienist Bob Kirchherr from O’Reilly, Talbot and Okun Associates and myself discussed with First Justice Maltby and Clerk Magistrate Gay on how our retrofitting’s of our municipal buildings went above and beyond the ASHRAE standards to protect the health of our city workforce and the public with continued routine preventative upkeep maintenance being the key!
My administration will continue to take the ‘bull by the horns’ by offering to work with the Trial Court officials with my Chief Development Officer Tim Sheehan to assist them to facilitate finding temporary public and/or private space to relocate their court operations in downtown Springfield ASAP. Bottom line here is the more and more information brought to my attention about the situation at the Roderick L. Ireland Courthouse, it is abundantly evident short term action must be undertaken immediately, not in 2024 ,and that a new state-of-the-art courthouse needs to be built ASAP right here in the downtown Springfield vicinity.”