FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – As a brand new Broward County Courthouse takes shape, some are saying it’s time the federal courthouse just blocks away in Ft. Lauderdale follows the same path.
On Thursday, video was released exposing a longstanding flooding problem at the federal courthouse which is located on Broward Boulevard.
In the video you see water pouring down on law books in the law library, puddles all over the floors, and buckets and trash cans being used to collect the water.
According to the federal General Services Administration which oversees the building, a poorly designed drainage system is to blame for the flooding.
Attorneys Paul Petruzzi and Lawrence Hashish spend several days a week in the federal courthouse and say something has to be done about the deteriorating conditions inside.
“I’ve been practicing here for 20 years and it’s getting worse and worse. And it’s awful because there are people who work here every day and it’s a health hazard. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s mold in this courthouse too,” said Petruzzi.
“There’s buckets in the way. There’s garbage cans in the way. It’s coming down as if there’s no roof at all and it’s pouring all over the place. In the law library, in the hallways and waiting areas,” agreed Hashish.
We’ve seen this kind of flooding before, at the county courthouse a few blocks away.
But after years of flooding and mold and claims by workers that they were getting sick, Broward County Commissioners finally funded a brand new county courthouse that is going up next to the old one.
Some say the time has come to do the same at the federal courthouse.
“I think if we waited on the federal government it will take a decade,” said Ft. Lauderdale mayor Jack Seiler.
Instead the city is putting out a request for developers and landowners to submit proposals for a public private partnership to build a new facility.
Seiler says they envision a new courthouse and possibly federal building to house federal agencies in downtown Ft. Lauderdale.
It’s not known if the new federal courthouse will be built on the same site or if it will be relocated and the current space be used for another type of high rise.
“The goal is to come up with a new location or use the current location if something can be done construction-wise,” said Seiler.
“You can’t ask the federal judges and juries to work under the current conditions,” said the mayor.
When the current federal courthouse was built 35 years ago it was considered an architectural wonder. But now Seiler says it is out of date, with security, internet and construction issues.
Meantime the GSA says they will work on a short-term solution to stop the flooding while the debate heats up on finally getting a new federal courthouse in Ft. Lauderdale.