Heating calamity shutters courthouse

The courthouse in Edgartown has reopened with a new boiler. - File photo

Updated @12:45 pm

A boiler failure has closed the Dukes County Courthouse for at least a week.

The furnace was found “cracked and leaking,” Christine Todd, chair of the Dukes County commissioners, told The Times. Todd said it “cannot be fixed.”

The dead boiler has closed the courthouse “at least until the end of this week,” Todd said.

The building has no running water because “they had to drain all the pipes,” she said.

The county building, which save for the registry of deeds portion, is leased to the commonwealth, houses the Dukes County Superior Court, the Edgartown District Court, and the Dukes County Probate and Family Court.

Heating problems have plagued the courthouse in the past and funding such repairs has proved a fiscal hurdle for the county. 

Dukes County Manager Martina Thornton said Monday she expects to have a proposal for a new boiler by the end of the day. No pipes froze, Thornton said, as steps were taken to insulate crawl spaces and exposed piping. Also, she noted mini splits, which have no connection to the boiler, remain operational in various places in the courthouse. Thornton said she was at the courthouse twice over the weekend to evaluate and monitor the situation.

“I was there Saturday afternoon after I got a call from the janitor,” she said. On Sunday she said she spent time in the courthouse with a contractor. Thornton said the boiler represents the last part of the heating system to be upgraded. She noted new pipes, radiator valves, and circulator pumps have already been installed in the courthouse. Thornton said the price tag of the boiler replacement could come in under $50,000 and therefore not require a bid process but it was too soon to know that. She said a temporary boiler that might be secured from a state contractor would be “very costly” and not something that is being contemplated presently.

Edgartown District Court Clerk-Magistrate Liza Williamson said emergency services like restraining orders remain available.

“I want to be sure our community knows that despite the physical closure of the courthouse, there are still resources available to help them and keep them safe,” she emailed. “Access to filing restraining orders is available 24/7 through on-call judges. These can be now be sought through the local police departments 24/7. Interpreters for all languages are also available.

Any criminal or civil matter scheduled this week will be rescheduled. Please contact your attorney or the court, upon reopening, for the new date. We are hoping this unfortunate issue will be resolved as quickly as possible.”

Updated to provide more details to this developing story.