Orange takes steps to clean mold at police station

ORANGE — Policemen look forward to reclaiming their offices later this fall now that an architectural firm has been hired to oversee the elimination of mold and installation of a new HVAC system in the building.

Last week, town officials walked through the police station with representatives from Haynes, Lieneck and Smith Inc., the company that will design and oversee the project for $8,900.

Haynes, Lieneck and Smith will develop a scope of work and seek a contractor for the project, which is expected to cost between $50,000 and $100,000. Several weeks ago, selectmen discussed the need for a special town meeting to approve money for the project.

Town Administrator Diana Schindler said last week the contract with the consultants is still being negotiated, but she expects it will be signed by selectmen soon.

The project will involve replacing the entire HVAC system as the current system is inefficient and ventilates poorly, contributing to the build-up of condensation and mold growth on the walls. Insulation will also be installed in the attic and walls to further prevent the development of condensation.

While there were some questions about whether the roof was leaking, Haigh said the roof has been inspected and is sound.

The mold issue first became apparent in the police station about a decade ago, but the odor seemed to disappear after a few years. Early this spring the moldy smells returned, driving many staff members out of their offices.

The moldy odor sickened some personnel, causing ongoing symptoms similar to the seasonal allergies many people experience.

Staff computer stations and phones were moved to a trailer parked outside the building.

While the trailer has allowed staff sensitive to the mold to keep working, the setup is far from ideal.

“We don’t want to keep working in a trailer when the snow starts to fly,” Haigh said. He also expressed concerns about his staff continuing to work in an area that is less secure “where their backs are facing the people walking in.”

Haigh said the moldy odor is confined to the office space and officer changing room of the police station. The booking room, holding cells and interview rooms are not affected.

He hopes the project will be completed by late fall.

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