SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (State House News Service) — Almost every member of Springfield's legislative delegation signed onto a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker asking that he issue an emergency order to rehabilitate or rebuild the Roderick Ireland Courthouse, which has fallen into such disrepair that the Hampden County district attorney has removed his staff.
In the letter spearheaded by Rep. Bud Williams, the delegation -- Williams, Reps. Jake Oliveira, Orlando Ramos, Carlos González and Angelo Puppolo, and Sens. Eric Lesser and Adam Gomez -- told Baker that when it comes to the downtown Springfield justice center, "the only real solution is to tear it down, rebuild or find a new home for the courthouse."
On Tuesday, Baker was asked about the Springfield courthouse and said that his administration had told the Trial Court, which oversees the building, "that we are available at their disposal for whatever point or purpose they believe we can help them deal with the issues that are there."
"It's pretty clear the building has issues. And, as I said, we'll do whatever we can to help the Trial Court with this property," Baker said. After another question on the topic, he added, "the Trial Court has made very clear to me on numerous occasions, that they are an independent and separate branch of government ... at the end of the day, that building belongs to them, not to us."
Last week, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni pulled his employees from the building until a full decontamination takes place. He said the condition of the building had deteriorated so much that mold was visible growing in parts of the structure and called for a more permanent solution.
"I believe that if we were farther east this building would have been replaced a long time ago," Gulluni said last week.
Williams' office did not make a copy of the letter available and the office's press release announcing the letter made no mention of Rep. Michael Finn, who also represents part of Springfield.
Written by Colin A. Young, SHNS