Records and computers are still in the basement.
By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Trumbull County commissioners plan to abandon the county health department building, rather than pay an estimated $100,000 to fix health risks posed by toxic mold.
In a few weeks, more than 30 health department employees will be moved to the Wean Building on Park Avenue Northeast, which houses the Trumbull County Educational Service Center and other government agencies.
"Aside from the employees, the public will be served also," said Michael O'Brien, a county commissioner.
The health department building, on Chestnut Avenue Northeast, was not handicapped-accessible, he said. Customers with disabilities were served in the parking lot, he said.
The 50-year-old building will probably be put up for sale, said Joseph Angelo Jr., a county commissioner.
"Our position is that we don't want to put more money into the building than we will get out of it," Angelo said. "We are looking for a long-term solution."
The county's insurance carrier has not determined if it will cover any damage from the poisonous mold, discovered in the building's basement in May, O'Brien said.
Mold has spread
The mold, first discovered behind the walls in a county emergency management agency office, has subsequently spread to the front of walls and into other rooms, officials said.
Spores of the mold can cause death if inhaled.
The three EMA employees in the building basement were quickly moved to new offices in the county 911 dispatch center, and the basement sealed off. The workers have still not been able to recover their computers, records or office equipment.
A closet full of equipment for the county Haz-Mat team, including poison gas detection units and other anti-terrorism supplies, have also been inaccessible since the mold was discovered. It will cost the county about $15,000 to hire workers to remove the contents of the basement and clean off mold spores, O'Brien said.
The county had received estimates of more than $40,000 to remove the mold from the basement. That price, however, would not include fixing the water problem in the basement that allowed the mold to flourish in the first place.
If the water problem isn't fixed, mold will likely reoccur, officials say.