Mold found in Pelham City Hall, repairs to cost $1 million

PELHAM – Investigations into air quality issues at Pelham City Hall revealed issues related to the presence of mold, according to David Willingham, director of the Department of Development Services and Public Works.

City Hall has been closed since Monday, March 4, amid concerns about air quality that arose after some preliminary testing. Since then, the building department, including permitting and licensing, has been temporarily relocated to the Pelham Water Works Building directly behind City Hall.

Administration, including the office of the mayor, city manager, finance and human resources, have been working out of the police department. The city’s communication systems, including phone and email, remain operational. City Council meetings are being held at the Pelham Courtroom until further notice.

At a Pelham City Council meeting on Monday, April 15, Willingham informed the council that moisture was entering the building in three ways – through the roof, the foundation and the HVAC system.

The council approved a $99,000 contract with Edmonds Engineering Inc. to prepare a bid package for mold remediation, repairs and construction at City Hall. The estimated cost of construction is $1.1 million.

Willingham said the estimate doesn’t include the cost of mold remediation. The city is still looking into what steps will be required to get rid of the mold. He said replacing the HVAC system will get the vast majority of the mold out, but there may still be a few other isolated areas to deal with.

As with most buildings built in the 1970s, there is asbestos in the facility, but none of it is airborne.

“The question is, do we have to disturb any of it (asbestos) to accomplish what we need to accomplish in terms of making repairs,” Willingham said. “Figuring that out will help give a complete picture of what needs to be done.”

City Manager Gretchen DiFante said a specialty contractor may be required to encapsulate the asbestos so that it’s safe as work is being done to the building. The $1.1 million estimate also doesn’t take into account possible asbestos-related to work.

Willingham estimated that repairs to City Hall will take about 12 months to complete. In the meantime, the city will temporarily lease a building to house City Hall. The council approved a resolution to enter into a lease agreement for a facility at 401 Southgate Drive.

The 6,000-square-foot building is listed at $7,500 per month. It has been vacant for 1.5 years, has 30 parking spaces and is in very good condition, according to DiFante. This facility allows all city departments to be in one building.

“We have been working diligently to find a space,” DiFante said. “We have found what the staff all feels is a great spot where we can all be together on one floor.”

Councilwoman Mildred Lanier thanked DiFante, Willingham and all city employees for being team players throughout the whole ordeal.

“I can only imagine how this has taken a toll trying to make the necessary adjustments,” she said.