|By G. Michael Dobbs|
SPRINGFIELD – State Rep. Sean Curran believes Hampden County needs a new courthouse and has prepared legislation that, if passed, would establish a feasibility study.
Curran explained to Reminder Publications that Worcester, Boston and Fall River have all received new courthouses. He added, “Our courthouse is older than the others.”
He added, “The city of Springfield deserves a great courthouse, too.”
Curran noted the Springfield courthouse is one of the busiest in the Commonwealth and that he envisions a new court facility would be large enough to incorporate the various offices facilities that currently are in several locations.
Curran would like to see the courthouse stay on the downtown area and specifically mentions the Peter Pan bus terminal and the Republican newspaper building, two parcels that would have been purchased by Penn National Gaming if Mayor Domenic Sarno had selected that company’s casino plan.
Curran would also have a new courthouse named after Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick Ireland, who is a native of Springfield.
If created the commission would “consist of three justices, retired or active, who served in Hampden County, a member of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, two representatives of the Hampden County Bar Association, two members of the building trades, a representative from the Hampden County Registrar of Deeds, a representative from the Hampden County Registrar of Probate, a representative from the Hampden County District Attorney’s office, a representative from the Public Defender’s office, a representative from the Massachusetts Court Officer’s Union, and a representative from the Massachusetts Office of Probation.”
Curran’s legislation reads in part: “The commission shall investigate and study the following:
“The feasibility of constructing a state of the art 21st century courthouse, that has up to date wireless technology, data storage, internet streaming, and real time courtroom audio and visual technology located in the City of Springfield.
“Said study shall investigate access to sites in particular, but not limited to: the North End or South End neighborhoods in Springfield.
“Said study shall determine the feasibility of constructing a new courthouse on several sites in particular, but not limited to: The Federal Post Office building, the Peter Pan Bus terminal, or the current site of the Republican newspaper.
“Said study shall evaluate the fiscal impacts on Hampden County and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It shall specifically address the construction costs of such a courthouse.
“Said study shall also investigate the potential for construction and other full-time jobs, which might benefit the citizens and communities of Hampden County.
“Said study shall investigate the feasibility of designing a courthouse with the most advanced and stringent environmental standards in the Commonwealth.
“Said study will also examine ways to integrate the courthouse to the community at large, as well as local colleges, universities, and law schools.
“Said study shall review the Hampden County Hall of Justice currently in operation, and address the inadequacies of its current design.
“Said study shall study the design and construction costs courthouses built in the last ten years here in New England, as well as across the country.”
Curran said that a feasibility study could take six to seven months to complete. He anticipated that if the legislature and the governor give the project their approval, plans for the new structure would take two to three years to complete.
“This is really a first step,” Curran said.
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