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Moldy Springfield Courthouse Is A 'Sick, Sick Building' With An 'Endemic Structural Problem'

Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni speaks about the evacuation of his offices in Roderick Ireland Courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021 due to deterioration of environmental conditions
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen
/
The Republican / masslive.com/photos
Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni speaks about the evacuation of his offices in Roderick Ireland Courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021 due to deterioration of environmental conditions

The Roderick Ireland Courthouse in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, was temporarily closed this week so a mold problem could be addressed, among other environmental concerns.

Before the announcement by state officials, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said he was pulling more than 40 staffers from the building because there was "visible, significant mold" in the facility, including on air vents in many of its offices.

The building houses Hampden Superior Court and Springfield District Court. Workers at the courthouse and local officials have long complained about conditions inside.

Panelist Elizabeth Román said it's been an ongoing issue at least as long as she's been working at the Springfield Republican.

"You've had two judges who've both passed away from ALS, and worked in the same office in that building," she said. "And I think it's egregious that it's taken this long, and that you have to have visible signs of mold in order to get the staffers out of there."

Gulluni renewed a call to replace the courthouse. He said if the building were located in eastern Massachusetts, it would have been replaced "a long time ago."

Panelist Larry Parnass said he wouldn't differ with Gulluni on that point — and that it opens up "a whole chapter of east-west disgruntlement over where the public dollars are invested."

"This is a problem that has been so long in the making," Parnass said. "And the notion that the Trial Court can just, you know, summon up the mold abatement firm to get in there and fix it — if I were those people, I'd say, like, 'Where do we start here?' This is a sick, sick building that has this long history. And it's not the kind of thing you can come around with a bunch of Handi Wipes and, you know, mop this stuff up. It's an endemic structural problem."

Also, this week, Massachusetts educations officials approved a mask mandate for most students and staff in public schools. The order lasts until October 1st. After that, schools that have an 80 percent vaccination rate could ease the rule for most students. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Paymon Rouhanifard of Brookline, cast the lone "no" vote.

Classes are getting started, and both of our guests have written recently about some new school buildings in our area. In Springfield, the new Brightwood-Lincoln Elementary School was recently dedicated. The $82 million dollar facility is actually two schools under one roof, which will share spaces like a gym and cafeteria. And in the middle of Berkshire County, a new Wahconah Regional High School was scheduled to open for classes next week. But that's been pushed back about a month. 

And finally, health officials in West Springfield are considering a mask mandate ahead of the Big E — which usually draws better than a million visitors a year. Masks would be required in indoor spaces and larger concert venues. Hampden County continues to lag behind the rest of the state in terms of vaccination.

Guests:

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Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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