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Courts facilities reopen in Newark after COVID-19 cleanup

April 8, 2020

By Ben Zabava

Head of Justice statue outside front entrance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse, Newark, New Jer
Head of Justice statue outside front entrance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse, Newark, New Jersey.

NEWARK, N.J. – When staff of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey began reporting potential symptoms of the novel coronavirus – at both the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse as well as the Frank R. Lautenberg U.S. Post Office & U.S. Courthouse – the District Court had a vital decision to make: how to balance public safety with public business. However, that balance was one the District Court was never alone in striking, thanks to its partnership with GSA’s Public Buildings Service in Region 2.

In accordance with the Chief Judge’s order regarding the District Court’s space in both Newark facilities, GSA closed the entire Martin Luther King, Jr. FB & USCH and the courthouse portion of the Frank R. Lautenberg USPO & USCH from Wednesday, March 25 to Monday, April 6. The District Court further requested GSA coordinate a complete cleaning of all District Court space and equipment.

“It was a narrow window, but also completely understandable that the District Court – like so many of our clients – needed to be able to resume their operations as quickly as possible,” said Domenick Coffrini, GSA’s senior property manager for the Newark Field Office. “Luckily, we were able to contract with a trusted emergency cleanup vendor that could fast track this crucial project to get it done before the April 6 date.”

Work crews cleaned District Court space and facilities during the week of March 30. This included advanced manual cleaning of pre-trial areas and the United States Marshals Service suites, as well as of sensitive and high dollar value instruments and equipment such as computers, courtroom monitors, and stenography machines. The cleanup covered all 368,877 square feet of space in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse, and the 136,739 square feet of the courthouse portion of the Frank R. Lautenberg U.S. Post Office & U.S. Courthouse. By Friday, April 3, all phases of the project were complete, and both facilities reopened for the District Court’s use on Monday, April 6.

“The District Court was very pleased that all work was accomplished days in advance of their re-occupancy date,” Coffrini said. “And we were very pleased to have been able to turn it around so quickly.”

GSA Region 2 has been taking similar measures in other facilities, as well.

“We’ve been coordinating cleanups at all our owned and leased locations, wherever tenants have reported someone testing positive or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19,” said GSA Public Buildings Service Region 2 Commissioner Michael Gelber. “Now that our clients are limiting use of their spaces to just their essential employees, it should be somewhat easier to keep these spaces disinfected.”

With much of its geographic area being in the present epicenter of COVID-19, GSA Region 2 is especially sensitive to its role in helping Federal agencies meet current challenges.

“Our tenant agencies and partners should immediately let us know about any concerns with their space and rest assured they are not alone in any of this,” said GSA Region 2 Administrator John A. Sarcone, III. “Our Region remains as committed as ever to maximizing the health and safety of all our tenant agencies’ and partners’ spaces while minimizing any interruptions to their operations.”

For more information about the measures GSA has taken in response to this pandemic, please visit GSA's COVID-19 page.

Last Reviewed: 2020-04-08