SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Hampden County Courthouse, also known as the Roderick L. Ireland Courthouse in downtown Springfield, is nearly five decades old. For the past 15 years, employees have raised concerns about the health risks that allegedly come with working in the building. The latest issue, mold found in different parts of the building.
Thursday morning employees walked into the courthouse for the first time in two weeks.
“I’m a little anxious right now. It’s an ongoing problem and at some point, they need to take care of us, the employees. They need to fix it,” said 17-year employee of the courthouse Erin Grassetti.
It reopened after testing determined mold levels to be safe for people after extensive cleaning and sanitization. However, the air ducts in the building were not tested.
The 22News I-Team discovered that mold has been an issue in this building for years now. Testing done back in 2018 found that mold, water damage and dirty air ducts were all problems.
Grassetti said she wants the trial court to find another place for employees to work.
“Everybody wants to do their job,” she said. “Everybody wants the income. So find another place for us to go.”
The state Trial Court’s “Capital Master Plan,” did not include the Hampden County Courthouse in Phase 1 of $3 billion in work planned for courts statewide. The Trial Court will be investing more than $300 million into the Hampden County Courthouse, mostly in Phase 2 of the Master Plan, which will begin several years from now. State Representative Angelo Puppolo said that’s not soon enough. He’s been fighting for a new courthouse in Springfield for years.
“We could probably at this time move the functions to a building close by,” Rep. Puppolo said. “I think the MassMutual Center is prime. Then, raze that building, put a new building in right there – a new state-of-the-art courthouse there, which Hampden County is long overdue for. The time for meetings and studies, in terms of how we are going to proceed with band-aids is long gone.”
In a statement to 22News, Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey and Trial Court Administrator John Bello said 52 dehumidifiers will be running for the next four to five weeks, and they will continue to use air purifiers in the building. The Trial Court Facilities Department will monitor the humidity of the building.