MARGATE – Mold at the now shuttered Union Avenue School lingers, and residents asked the city commissioners at their meeting Thursday, Nov. 4 whether or not it is so widespread that the school cannot be utilized. (Shore News Today)
District is addressing mold problem at Union Avenue School
Shore News Today
Written by SUZANNE MARINO
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 11:32
MARGATE – Mold at the now shuttered Union Avenue School lingers, and residents asked the city commissioners at their meeting Thursday, Nov. 4 whether or not it is so widespread that the school cannot be utilized.
Commissioner Dan Campbell said that after several conversations with School District Superintendent Theresa DeFranco, he believes the district is working through the problem, but it takes time, and the superintendent is looking into the cost of remediation. DeFranco said in a telephone interview Monday that the district cannot enter into any kind of lease for the building until all of the mold issues and any further complications are completely cleaned up.
She said they been told by environmental professionals who inspected the school in September that the root of the problem appears to be when the maintenance employees were moving teachers and equipment out of the school this summer the doors were left open with the air conditioner running.
“The humidity got into the building and chiller pipes for the air conditioner sweat and in one room leaked on the floor, and that is where the mold came, as far as I have been told,” DeFranco said.
The superintendent said the problem is limited to only three rooms and nowhere else. The carpeting needs to be replaced in those rooms, and the vents throughout the building have been cleaned to assure there is no lingering mold problem.
“John Sibatti, the maintenance supervisor in the district with Tri M Maintenance, shampooed the rugs, wiped down all of the walls and ripped out the carpet in the three rooms,” she said.
Tri M Maintenance, the company that had a maintenance contract with the district for 15 years, has agreed to cover a portion of the cost of rugs,” she said.
“The leak was there and occurred during their watch. We met with them as we were ending our contract with Tri M Maintenance and they agreed to cover a portion of the cost of the rugs equal to what they were worth at this point,” DeFranco said.
She said the district did not renew the contract with the company and instead hired a facilities manager for the district, Curtis Woodrow, at annual salary of $75,000.
DeFranco said the move should in the long run allow the district to operate its facilities in a cost-effective manner by doing much more preventative maintenance.
Woodrow, who came to the district after working at the Cape May County Special Services School, has his Black Seal Certificate and experience with HVAC systems, according to the superintendent. She said the district hopes to save money because Woodrow can work on the boiler, where in the past the district had to call in a subcontractor for that work.
The district also hired a team of seven full-time maintenance employees and one part-time person. The contract with Tri M was roughly $1 million over five years.
DeFranco said the district is already realizing savings on utilities with the Union Avenue School being closed.
Discussions are ongoing with potential tenants, which include the city, which is considering moving the building department from its current home on Washington Avenue into the school. The lease for the building department is up in 2011.
“We are getting everything cleaned up and moving forward,” said DeFranco. “I told them we will have this all taken care of very soon, and then let’s meet again.”