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Date of Issue: November 16, 2006

Barford facing mold problem at city hall

Newly elected Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford won't have to wait long for her administration to face its first serious threat to the city. Mold has been discovered at city hall and environmental inspectors have indicated that last summer's water intrusion through the roof appears to be the cause.

That's a polite way of saying the damage was caused when Roof USA was installing a new roof on city hall last summer and covered its work area with materials that failed during a heavy rainstorm. Thousands of gallons of rainwater coursed through the roof and structure onto the floor, causing serious water damages.

Roof USA's insurance provider subsequently paid a claim to have the damage repaired, but Mayor SueLynn ordered the environmental inspection as a precaution.

The Nov. 3 report by Environmental Safety Consultants found "significant mold contamination" in the trusses above the ceiling tiles in the commission chambers, in the room air of the locker room and in the west wall. ESC said there was no serious health threat at this time, but precautions should be taken.

ESC recommended that a remediation protocol be prepared and a trained, experienced mold-remediation contractor hired to fix the areas required by the protocol.

SueLynn said that even though ESC states that the level of air quality "does not indicate a need to vacate the building," she's advising staff members with respiratory problems to consult a physician.

She also contacted Roof USA and its insurance carrier, along with Cure Water Damage, the company hired by Roof USA to clean up city hall following the rain storm incident. And she asked city attorney Jim Dye for a legal opinion to ensure the city doesn't get stuck for any bill to get rid of the mold.

The cost of the ESC inspection was $2,250, which the mayor wants either Roof USA or its insurance company to pay.

SueLynn, who holds office until mayor-elect Fran Barford is sworn on Nov. 16, said the roof company has previously guaranteed that it would fix any problems caused by the roof leak at no cost to the city, and fixing the mold problem identified in the report should be part of that offer.

SueLynn said she advised Barford of the problem she'll face on her first day as mayor.