BOSTON (WWLP) – A western Massachusetts lawmaker says the Hampden County Hall of Justice has outgrown itself. 22News was in Boston where Wilbraham State Senator Gale Candaras wants to explore relocating the courts.
Staff at the Hampden County Hall of Justice said the courts are already too small for the number of cases they deal with on a daily basis and with major highway re-construction coming, and a casino possibly to be built nearby, they said the building needs to be relocated.
Laura Gentile, Hampden County Clerk of Courts, told 22News, “There are days when the line of people wraps around the courthouse and we may be waiting to start a court proceeding and we just can’t get the people into the building quickly enough to begin.”
Long lineups, lack of parking, cramped quarters, and leaky roofs hamper the Hampden County Hall of Justice, said the people who work there. They said reconstruction of a nearby raised section of Interstate 91 and the casino skyscraper that MGM plans to build across the street will make the courts almost inaccessible.
“As you can see the parking for this court, right here, is completely gone.” Senator Gale Candaras has filed legislation that creates a committee to explore relocating the courthouse. “To look at rising that building completely and building a new court in another part of Springfield.”
State lawmakers are generally supportive of the bill, as construction in the area threatens to interfere with thousands of court cases in some of the busiest criminal courts in the Commonwealth.
According to Rep. Peter Kocot, (D) Northampton, “We’d like to get this bill onto the House floor in the next month or so. I think it’s very important for Springfield and the people to use that courthouse to make sure that it’s safe.”
If MGM is awarded a casino license, Senator Candaras predicts construction of a gaming facility in Springfield could begin as early as the spring.