TOMS RIVER – A $2 million renovation to the justice complex is coming at the same time as a sewage break that closed several courtrooms and displaced employees.
The incident stemmed from a sewer break one night in September, administrator Carl Block said. The worst damage was on the first floor, when a pipe separated from a joint, leaking sewage into a courtroom, which spread to other courtrooms. There was also one room on the second floor affected, and several on the third.
It’s believed that the cause of the break was an inmate in the fourth floor jail flushing items down the toilet.
Five out of the seven courtrooms wound up being closed for cleanup, he said. They were all back to being used on Oct. 10.
The third floor had a renovation being planned. The Sheriff’s Department, which is on that floor, has relocated during this and will return after the planned renovation is complete, he said.
Sheriff Michael Mastronardy said there had been problems over a number of years with pipes on that facility, and that his staff had complained about it. The department is going to work in different offices until everything is cleaned up and the renovation is complete.
There is a new jail addition that had been built recently, Block said. The new area has newer toilets and pipes so that something like this wouldn’t happen. The older parts of the jail, where the items were flushed, will now be fitted with new toilets. New flooring and security measures will also be installed.
After the contractor finishes work, they run tests to make sure the area is clean, he said. The county will be having other tests done independently of this to confirm it.
An ordinance appropriating $2 million was introduced at the Oct. 4 Freeholders meeting. This will take care of all of the planned work.