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Cops stuck in trailer as sewage woes plague building

Photo by Patrick Whittemore

Boston Police officer Darryn L. Brown works at a desk inside a trailer which is being used as the new Area D police headquarters in the South End while the new station is repaired.

The city's newest police station has been partially shut down and will need hundreds of thousands in taxpayer-funded repairs after pipes burst and flooded the building with raw sewage, the Herald has learned.
Opened in 2001, the $8 million District 4 station in the South End has been hailed as a neighobrhood jewel, but basement jail cells and a captain's office have been soaked with sewage from ruptured pipes, sources said.
Several pipes are damaged and the entire foundation may have to be torn up and replaced, which could cost taxpayers up to $1 million, the sources added.
As a result of the mess, the entire first floor of the Harrison Avenue building has been closed and officers are now working out of trailers on a side street as well as on the second floor. Counters have been ripped out, computers and work cubicles have been moved and flooring has been torn up, sources said.
And because the station's 23 jail cells are now out of use, South End cops are forced to shuttle prisoners to other stations around the city. Men are taken to Dorchester while women are shuttled to South Boston.
The company that built the facility, Peabody Construction, is no longer in business, according to officials and state records. Representatives from the architectural firm that designed the building, Blackstone Block, did not return a call for comment.
Peabody Construction came under fire last year for its work on Newton's new high school, a majestic $159 million building that's been plagued by cost overruns and delays that have made it the most expensive school in state history. The company was fired from the school job last year by the city of Newton.
"Peabody Construction should be on the hook for this," said City Councilor Stephen Murphy. "Taxpayers expected that this would be built correctly and stand the test of time and this hasn't."
Mayor Thomas M. Menino's spokeswoman Dot Joyce acknowledged that "emergency repairs" are ongoing but said it is unknown how long they will take or how much they will cost.
"Our priority is to fix the pipes and get the station back up and running to full capacity as quickly as possible," Joyce said. "We don't know at this point who's at fault or what exactly happened. We will fix the problem first and then look to see if there's any way to be compensated."
One source said pipes apparently broke because of shifting ground, a problem that became clear two months ago when sewage flowed into a bathroom in a captain's office.
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