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Sewage leak keeps focus on Springfield courthouse

The Roderick Ireland Courthouse in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Don Treeger
The Republican / masslive.com
The Roderick Ireland Courthouse in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Two days after the Hampden County Registry of Deeds published photos of a raw sewage leak at the Roderick Ireland Courthouse in Springfield, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he is concerned about the building's feasibility as a workplace but didn't take a position on whether it should be closed.

Baker said Thursday that his administration is aware of issues at the dilapidated courthouse, whose conditions have prompted legal action and calls for the building to be demolished and replaced.

The courthouse is named for Springfield native Roderick Ireland, the first African American chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, who retired in 2014.

The Hampden County Registry of Deeds posted a series of images on its Facebook page Tuesday depicting a sewage backup overflowing into a bathroom and what it described as "raw sewage stains on the ceiling" in offices where employees work.

Asked if the courthouse should be shut down and if he was discussing state aid, Baker said his team is aware of the issues but did not answer directly.

"We spent a lot of time with the Trial Court on the building and absolutely appreciate the issues and concerns the people who work there have, which is why we required our own people, when they went through the work of replacing most of the ventilation and duct work in the building, we told them, you need to take pictures of everything that's there as you do the work and you need to take pictures of everything you replace," Baker replied. "We required them to put air quality monitoring infrastructure in place as they did that work so there would be a very transparent, comprehensive process for dealing with the questions people had around air quality."

"The Trial Court is the owner-operator of the building, but obviously, we share many of the concerns that people who work in that building have about that building's ability to provide a safe and appropriate place for them to work," he added.

Attorney general candidate Shannon Liss-Riordan visited the courthouse on Wednesday and called for its closure, particularly in the week of tests showing harmful particles in air tests conducted in the facility.

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