Citing environmental and health concerns, Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni ordered his staff on Wednesday to evacuate from their offices in the Roderick L. Ireland Courthouse in Springfield.
Gulluni said he told his employees to relocate due to “growing concerns and growing evidence that this building is unsafe and unhealthy.”
“We’ve reached a crisis point with this building,” Gulluni said Wednesday at a press conference on the steps of the courthouse.
Gulluni said there was visible mold on walls, books, flags, and vents in the courthouse, which is home to Hampden County Superior Court and Springfield District Court.
On Wednesday, Gulluni told his staff to take their laptops, files, and other work materials and work remotely from the nearby Tower Square office building. Gulluni said his staff would continue to appear in court as necessary, but he wants his employees to avoid the courthouse as much as possible until the problems are remediated.
James Leydon, a spokesman for the Gulluni’s office, said the concerns about the conditions inside the courthouse are not new.
“These health concerns have been going on for 10 years now, if not longer,” he said in a telephone interview. “There’s been noticeably more mold in the building. It’s clearly getting worse.”
Leydon also said that two judges who worked out of the courthouse — Judge William J. Boyle and Judge Robert F. Kumor Jr. — died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative disease known as ALS. Kumor died from the disease in 2013 and Boyle died in 2019.
“They shared the same exact office,” Leydon said. (In 2017, a longtime employee who had worked directly above the office also died of ALS.)
At Wednesday’s press conference Gulluni said he won’t have his staff return to the courthouse until the problems have been addressed.
“I am hopeful at this point that measures will be taken to remediate the mold that’s visible and not visible in the courthouse, and that there will be a thorough and significant cleaning over the course of the next several days, or however long that might take,” Gulluni said.
Gulluni said the building needs to be rehabbed significantly or, even better, replaced entirely.
“The residents, the people in this region who need this courthouse, deserve better,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Trial Court issued a statement Wednesday night saying the courthouse is temporarily closed.
“The Trial Court contracted an environmental testing firm and arranged for a licensed mold abatement company to work in the building today to assess and address the issues that have been identified. The Trial Court will determine the ability to reopen once those assessments have been completed,” the statement said.
Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.