Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
A water break inside the Portsmouth Municipal Building on Wednesday temporary closed part of the second floor, including Judge Russell Kegley’s courtroom.
Kegley said the water break happened sometime overnight, or in the morning before any of the employees arrived. By the time it was discovered gushing water out of the pipes beneath the sink in the men’s restroom, it had already flooded the restroom and Kegley’s courtroom next door. Kegley said the water was even leaking into the Clerk’s office below his courtroom.
He said the courtroom was closed Wednesday while they cleaned the mess. In the meantime they would be having court in Judge Steven Mowery’s courtroom across the hall.
The problem underscores the long-running debate of whether or not the city of Portsmouth needs a new municipal building. Built in 1935, the building was condemned in November 2006 and closed for one week because of structural problems at the front entrance, and a new roof was installed in June 2010 because of rain leaking into the upstairs courtrooms. The police department in the basement was also relocated between November 2010 and January 2012 because of black mold.
Upon taking office in December 2010, Portsmouth Mayor David Malone said he believed it was possible to find new facilities for city workers.
“I think everybody understands the need for a new facility. A water break is a typical issue that older buildings with older pipes go through, and I think we handled it quickly and the situation was remedied rather fast,” Malone said Wednesday.
He said he still supports the idea of finding a new building, and said the Building Committee is still meeting monthly to discuss possible plans and options. Nothing has been presented to Portsmouth City Council, he said.
Malone said he did not yet know how much it will end up costing the city to repair the water break and clean the water damaged areas of the municipal building.
“It won’t be that much. We have money in the CIP that will cover it with no problems at all,” Malone said.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.