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Massachusetts judiciary officials want new courthouse in Springfield

Roderick Ireland Courthouse in Springfield.
Creative Commons
Roderick Ireland Courthouse in Springfield.

Massachusetts judicial leaders said in no uncertain terms Tuesday they support constructing a new courthouse in Springfield to replace a facility whose infrastructure failures have long been in the spotlight.

"We are clear on our position: we want a brand-new courthouse in this city," Trial Court Administrator Thomas Ambrosino told lawmakers during a budget hearing in Springfield.

Western Massachusetts legislators and several public officials who work in the Roderick Ireland Courthouse have warned for several years that it is in a state of disrepair, sharing images of sewage backups and describing the mold growing inside the facility.

In 2021, the Hampden County district attorney removed his staff from the building and alleged the conditions posed health risks.

State officials have not been able to agree on a concrete path forward for the courthouse's future in recent years. Trial Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Locke said at the hearing that the judicial system has made clear to the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance — which is part of the executive branch now overseen by Gov. Maura Healey — it wants a new building.

That appears to be a recent shift. In December, a Trial Court spokesperson told the Springfield Republican the system's leaders were exploring options including both new construction and "renewal" of the current building.

"DCAMM likes to refer to us as 'the client.' We have told them that as the client, our position is we'd like to see a new courthouse in Hampden County and in the city of Springfield, so that is what is now framing discussions with the executive branch and with DCAMM," Locke said Tuesday. "It's a substantial cost, but this is an important city, [the] third-largest city in the commonwealth, and our courthouse ought to make a statement about the importance of this community."

"I'm so elated with the comments I just heard that I don't even want to ask anything else," replied Sen. Adam Gomez, a Springfield Democrat who co-chaired Tuesday's hearing. "Thank you for that position and thank you for saying it publicly. I know that we have a lot of officials here that were very, very happy to hear that's what we want, that's what we need."

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