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Engineering firm places mold removal, cleanup at Tinton Falls library at $182K

 An engineering firm that was hired by Tinton Falls has estimated that it will cost $182,000 to remove mold and make repairs at the building that houses the Tinton Falls Public Library.

A report prepared by T&M Associates, Middletown, was placed on the borough’s website within the past two weeks. The library, which is located at 664 Tinton Ave., has been closed since August of 2017.

Employees from the Department of Public Works (DPW) discovered the mold after being called to the building, which is owned by the borough.

The Tinton Falls Public Library is an independent organization and is the only tenant in the building.

T&M Associates reported that mold was discovered in a trailer that is behind the library and was being used for various purposes. Mold was also found in the basement of the building, which is a former home, and on the first level of the building.

“As a result of indoor quality sampling, it was discovered that mold spores were identified in elevated levels in one first floor room and in the basement,” the report states. “In addition, a review of the … samples from various surfaces revealed slight surface growth of mold on the wall below the window-mounted air conditioning unit.

“… Based on our investigation, we believe the cause of the mold spores in the air and on the wall surface are the result of poor heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). The existing HVAC system is outdated and no longer functioning properly,” T&M Associates reported.

The trailer was on the property because the library could no longer accommodate all of its programs in one building. The trailer has been identified as a key source of the mold problem and will be removed from the property, according to the report.

Engineers from T&M Associates recommend the installation of a new HVAC system in the library and additional upgrades to the electric service in order to support the new ventilation system.

“We believe this will alleviate the current moisture issues,” the report states.

The report includes additional items for consideration, including constructing an addition to replace the loss of the trailer space, floor replacement and new paint on the walls. The reports states that engineers did not conduct a “destructive investigation” and suggests that borough officials revisit the code compliance plan for the building.

T&M Associates provided the following preliminary cost estimates: remove existing trailer and repair wall, $10,000; remove existing surface mold (no cost if DPW can perform the work; if not, budget would be $5,000); HVAC upgrades, $105,000; electric service upgrades, $20,000; structural repairs, $9,500; replacement of front columns, $2,500; exterior upgrades to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, $15,000; and soft costs, $20,000.

In an interview last week, Tinton Falls Public Library Board of Trustees President Rosemary Kochman said the library was immediately shut down on Aug. 16, 2017 after mold was discovered in various parts of the facility and the DPW was called to examine the situation.

“The problem came to light when a staff member reported being ill and was absent from work on sick leave,” Kochman said. “Our director notified the DPW about the possibility of a problem in the trailer.”

Kochman said at least one employee from the library reported feeling sick before an inspection of the building was carried out by borough employees.

“The trailer was used by library staff, residents and the Board of Trustees. The staff used it for arts and crafts projects, mending library books, and other clerical issues. The board used it for our monthly meetings. It was also used to hold programs for our children, our teens and adults.

“At times, (the trailer) was used for tutoring, library clubs, mini book sales and for outside clubs to hold meetings. The children’s librarian from the Monmouth County Library System used the trailer to prepare her programs. It was a multi-use room. There was a separate room in the trailer that was supposed to be used as an office for our director, but it was not usable,” she said.

Kochman said once it became apparent the building would not reopen anytime soon after it was closed on Aug. 16, 2017, the library’s employees were immediately laid off.

She said they remained on the payroll until September of 2017 and were then eligible for unemployment insurance.

She said the most difficult part about the situation was having to make the decision to lay off all of the members of her staff. She described the employees of the library as “wonderful” individuals.

Kochman said residents may check out books and other materials from the county library system while the Tinton Falls Public Library is out of service.

“Whatever it takes, we are getting that library up and running,” Kochman said.

On Aug. 15, Monmouth County Regional Health Commission health officer David Henry said he was not aware of the situation at the Tinton Falls Public Library. Tinton Falls is one of the municipalities served by the commission.

“There is no jurisdictional authority to do anything about mold,” Henry said.

Contacted for comment, Tinton Falls Councilwoman Nancyanne Fama, who is the governing body’s liaison to the library, said she would forward questions from the Atlantic Hub to Borough Attorney Kevin Starkey.

No response to the newspaper’s questions submitted via email to Fama was received from Starkey, and the attorney did not return telephone messages left at his law office.

Business Administrator Mike Skudera did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.

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