Council takes first step toward renovating town hall

The Valley Banner

ELKTON — Town Council voted Monday night to take a first step toward making Town Hall habitable again.

By a 4-1 vote, Elkton council members approved spending $21,180 to resolve environmental health issues that forced the town to move its operations to the Elkton Area Community Center last year.

Councilman Jay Dean, Councilwoman Margaretta Isom and Councilmen Steve America and Joshua Gooden voted to award the contract to Waco Inc., a Richmond company with an office in Mount Crawford. Councilman Harry Armbruster cast the “no” vote.

Councilman Jeff Jones was absent.

Troy Shifflett, the town’s public works director, said the building will be healthy to occupy once Waco completes its work, but it might not remain that way.

“They guarantee that when they leave it’s clean,” he said, “but there’s no guarantee [the mold] won’t come back.”

Shifflett recommended accepting Waco’s bid even though it wasn’t the lowest because it provided far more detail about the work it would perform.

Low-bidder Asbestco Inc. of Palmyra offered to perform the cleanup for $19,800, but that didn’t include third-party monitoring when the work was done.

That would have cost the town an extra $1,000; Waco’s offer included the monitoring.

Waynesboro’s Paragon Solutions submitted a bid of $52,328. Elkton officials have said the town’s insurance through the Virginia Municipal League would pay up to $15,000 for mold removal.

Inspection Needed
The town shifted its operations to the EACC from a house once used as a Confederate hospital building at 173 W. Spotswood Ave. about eight months ago following a flood in the Town Hall basement. Mold and mildew remediation and asbestos removal must be performed before it can be occupied. Most of Waco’s work will be done in the basement. Its proposal states that it will remove asbestos floor tiles, the mastic adhesive underneath the tiles and all nonasbestos finishes. All surfaces will be cleaned with a hydrogen-peroxide-based cleaner. A mold-resistant coating will be placed on walls and ceilings.

Visible mold will be cleaned from surfaces on the first and second floors, and all three floors will be fogged with a microbial disinfectant.

Wayne Printz, Elkton’s mayor and acting town manager, said the work is only part of what needs to be done before staffers can return to the building.

Printz couldn’t say what else is necessary because the environmental cleanup must be completed to make it safe for the structure to be inspected, though he indicated the foundation might require repairs. During the public comment period, former councilman and mayoral candidate Randell Snow said the panel should do what it could to return to Town Hall, which he called “the house,” as soon as possible following a “hostile takeover” of the EACC. He claimed the move has hurt recreational programming for the public. Snow also said council should have provided more information about the bids submitted because people might have had some comment about the bids “if they knew what fixing the house means.” Printz countered that he thought the community center “was working better than ever.” He said the town’s move to the building has led to additional parking and increased accessibility for handicapped residents.

Armbruster said Tuesday that he saw mushrooms growing in mold in the basement walls following the flood, so he’s not comfortable sending employees back there to work.

“I don’t want them to move into a contaminated building,” he said, adding that he’s only spoken with two employees who want to return to the site.

Elkton also could be on the hook for costs beyond those associated with the flood, Armbruster said. He thinks Town Hall must be rewired to be brought up to code, and it should be made accessible for the handicapped.

Also of concern is the state of an old oak tree next to the building, which Armbruster said is one of the two oldest in the state. He’s concerned that additional repairs to the building could damage its roots and endanger the tree.

Instead of repairing Town Hall, Armbruster prefers adding offices onto the EACC and using it for Elkton’s municipal offices.

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