Mold forces closure of Elkton’s Municipal Building

The Valley Banner

ELKTON — Mold found throughout the Elkton Municipal Building led the town council to close the historic building last week.

With councilmembers Joshua Gooden and Jeff Jones absent during an emergency meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 3, council voted 4-0 to move the employees out of the building as soon as possible.

Town staff were relocated to space in the Elkton Area Community Center on Blue and Gold Drive on Thursday, Aug. 4.

As of Monday, about half of the computers and other equipment had been moved, Printz said.

During the emergency meeting, council heard from Mike Delaney, owner of Servpro in Harrisonburg.

Delaney was hired after a pipe burst and flooded the basement of the municipal building and forced the town’s Police Department to relocate to the EACC three weeks ago.

The municipal building, which was built in 1840 for Dr. Simeon B. Jennings and served as a Confederate hospital during the Civil War, is located between Rockingham Street and Spotswood Avenue.

It was donated to the town by Merck & Company in 1964.

“There’s mold on all levels of the house, and there probably has been for ... years. It will be quite expensive to do everything that building needs,” Delaney said, adding that it can be fixed but wondered if council should spend the money to do so.

“How much money do you want to put into that old house?” he asked.

Delaney said the town’s insurance with the Virginia Municipal League covers $15,000 for mold, but added that the town would have to spend additional money to fix the problem.

“Most of the walls in the basement need to be taken down,” he said.

The town has not yet received an estimate on the repairs, but Public Works Director Troy Shifflett guessed it would cost around $200,000 to rebuild walls in the basement and set up a barrier outside.

He said that mold was being spread throughout the building by an old air conditioning unit.

In response to questions from council about how the mold would affect town employees, Delaney said everyone reacts differently, i.e. some are affected and some aren’t.

“The Harrisonburg city offices were pretty bad for a long, long time in their old building,” he said.

Delaney recommended town employees wear an N95 mask when inside the building.

Such a mask can be purchased from Lowe’s or Home Depot, he said, adding that events can still be held outside the building.

Air scrubbers could be seen and heard buzzing and blowing air out of the basement on the building on Tuesday, Aug. 2, during a National Night Out event, which was held on the building’s porch and lawn facing Rockingham Street.

In response to a question from Councilman Gerry “Bootie” Comer, Delaney said the town can sell the historic building without fixing it as long as it notifies the buyer of any issues.

“People sell houses all the time as is,” he said.

The value of the 1.37-acre property at 173 W. Spotswood Ave. is $559,300, according to the Rockingham County GIS website.

That includes $120,000 for the land and $439,300 for improvements.

“God gave us this opportunity to fix this thing,” Printz said, referring to the water pipe that burst.

He added that protecting the town’s employees is the council’s top priority.

The property is one of the few remaining architectural treasures left in our community, Printz said.

“The building will not be harmed in any way and will be respected for the historical significance and personal fondness we all have for it,” he said via email.

“Town council members and I are carefully considering every option moving forward and are eager to hear input from residents and civic organizations regarding the next chapter for one of Elkton’s most beloved landmarks,” he added.

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