Last January, air testing, floor samples and cuts into the walls of the Sheriff’s Operations Center in Bunnell revealed mold, water intrusion, old wood, bat droppings and other issues that, after more than a year of questions about the sick building, sealed its fate, at least in the eyes of the sheriff and his employees: they would not work in there again.
The conversation changed. It was no longer whether the building could ever be used for sheriff’s operations, but how soon could the county build a new operations center, and where. That question was answered in April when the County Commission opted to build near the public library, off Palm Coast Parkway.
But a question has lingered: would the old operations building, which is not that old, be usable again by any county agency, or re-sellable?
Terracon Consultants, the company that carried out the testing in January, continued its work. It visited the operations building five times in late June and late July. On Oct., 28 it issued its supplemental report, which was disseminated to Flagler County commissioners this week.
The report’s conclusion: There are issues, but they are repairable, or treatable. “Based on our evaluation to date,” the report concludes, “if the recommendations included in the report are implemented and confirmed complete, the building should be ready for re-occupancy.”
That conclusion suggests the county may yet have a viable building in its inventory even as it is well in the process of building a new operations center for the sheriff. But officials previously, including the sheriff, have spoken: no conclusion would lead them back into the building. And when asked about such new conclusions again today, and whether it would change the county’s course regarding the sheriff’s operations, Commission Chairman Donald O’Brien gave an unhesitant and categorical “No.”
O’Brien also noted that yet another report, this one from the Centers for Disease Control, has yet to be turned in. As for the building’s potential future uses, “there’s a lot of ifs for me on that. But for the sheriff’s use, no.”
The reaction was similar from the sheriff’s Chief Mark Strobridge, the point man on building issues since they arose two years ago (it was in November 2016 that employees first reported serious illnesses, and had to be removed from the operations center.) “At this point in time our focus has been on what we’re doing in the future, not what happened in the past,” Strobridge said. More than 60 sheriff’s employees have been working out of the county courthouse, pending the construction and completion of the operations, or district, office in Palm Coast.
Terracon’s follow-up found “varying degrees of moisture” in 18 of 21 locations below carpeting and vinyl. The report outlines numerous instances of wet glue, musty odors and “suspect visible growth” below carpeting that had been removed and sampled. That was true in the sheriff’s office room (178), even though a square of carpet had just been replaced there. There were similar findings in rooms 168, 166, 161, 165, 146, 111, 118, 153, 128, 129, 103, 105A and 150. In sum, that problem seemed much more prevalent than it had been previously and seemed to argue against ready mitigation, because the report doesn’t conclusively explain why these problems have persisted.
The report states that moisture found in the concrete slab appears to be improving, “most likely due to the perimeter exterior drainage improvements recently performed,” the report states. Yet it also found that 22 of 35 “concrete moisture transmission measurements” were either elevated or potentially elevated–not the sort of numbers that suggest too much improvement.
Drainage improvements outside the building may have addressed the source of the moisture saturating the slab, the report concluded, also noting a pipe leak near the building’s mechanical room, Room 145, where water service enters the building. The report leaves unclear whether the leak was repaired.
Mold detected in the cold-storage room in February was not detected in June and July, but “moderate to high counts” of mold and an “elevated fungal count” was detected in several samples of old wood that was uncovered in the structure. The bat droppings found in February were found to have been localized, with “no anomalies” connected to them.
“The observations and measurement results contained within this report,” the report states, “are considered to be a ‘snapshot-in-time’ and may not be representative of other times when indoor environmental conditions, outdoor environmental conditions and/or heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system operations may be different.”
Terracon recommends hiring a licensed mold abatement firm to clean and sanitize 55 feet of old wood framing in the southwest corner of the building and into the main evidence storage room, and 30 linear feet of wood framing behind wall finishes “along the entire south side of the southeast corner of Training Room 129,” while 12 feet of bat droppings along the south wall “should be properly abated.”
Terracon also recommends mitigation of the concrete, some of it by a contractor, some of it possibly with in-house workers.
The report also leaves certain questions unanswered: “Documentation from the partial flooring replacement efforts and water leak repair work should be obtained and reviewed to see if it has any bearing on the floor moisture issue,” it states. And: “Retain a qualified leak detection firm to evaluate slab conditions at the building’s restrooms and at concrete test locations 11, 22 and 24 to evaluate the possible source of the elevated slab moisture in these areas.”
No costs are associated with the recommendations.
David Schaefer says
That place needs to be destroyed. No way in hell I would want any of my county employees to work in there..
Maybe the county council should be made to move THEIR offices and operations there.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
Dennis McDonald yelled at the top of his lungs that the building has no vaper barrier and sits practically on a wetland!
If I worked for the FCSO you bet I would never go back to work in that building even if the floors were laid in gold… There is a lack of parks all over the county. This land should be cleaned up the best it can and be used as a park/both active and passive. open air gazebos in the passive area and basketball etc in the active area. As long as no enclosure is built there is no reason the land itself could not be converted to a passive/active park for the many apartment dwellers in the area. I am sure Bunnell together with the county could get grant funds to covert this for general public OPEN AIR use.
Or, am I just dreaming, like I often do?…………
Perhaps when the work is complete this building could be used to address the county’s homeless issue ?
So its true. The sheriff and his employees have been trying to pull one over on the public. They refuse to work in a building they will expect others to occupy? Wouldn’t that be putting the ones at harm they are paid to protect, if there truly was issue with the building? The tests are in and they must get back to work in that building, they have brought enough stress and embarrassment to the county and its citizens.
The county is letting sheriff Staley control everything about the sheriffs location. It’s time to tell the sheriff, take it or leave it. Taxpayers are tired of the county pissing away tax dollars. Fix the building, and force Staley into the building or tell him to stay just like it is, sharing how they now do. Grow some balls.
Let’s not forget folks, election is right around the corner. If Elmer Fudd ran against Staly I assure you I would vote for him. This pisses me off so bad!
Typical county government. Throw money at the problem and it will eventually fix itself. Such a waste of taxpayer money when what should’ve happened in the first place was to demolish that building and build new.
CB from PC says
How about FCSO setting up Sheriff sub-stations in the vacant commercial space around the County?
Mike Cocchiola says
It is outrageous that we would spend millions of tax dollars on a Palm Coast edifice to honor Sheriff Staly simply because he desperately wants one and the cowardly Flagler board of county commissioners is afraid to defy his orders. If the BOCC does not stop this scam on the taxpayers of Flagler County they must be held accountable by all citizens. Stop the spending, stop this ego-driven madness. Fix the old building as recommended and put the Sheriff back where he belongs, in a perfectly safe and secure building, already bought and paid for by our tax dollars.
Just Saying says
If this were owned by a private enterprise, the building would have long been repaired and “brought up to code”, and the employees told to get back to work or polish the resume.
Paul Anderson says
The “yeah, but” tone of this article misses the point. WE decide whether WE are willing to go into debt until 2050 for a new whatever they’re calling it building behind the Library, not the Commission. Now it is true they may get the process moving but three new members on the Commission who actually listen to their constituents could put the kibosh on that.
This was a political miscalculation by many and many more of us knew that it was going to blow up in their face. Now that is has, they are going to own it. Commissioners need to take a field trip to the circular hallway at FPC and take a whiff. FPC has water intrusion and mold problems for years and we have yet to see the bulldozers there.
“Just sayin” is right, if this was a private sector business, remediation would have been completed immediately and business would resume. The Sheriff’s Department employees aren’t any more special than any other Flagler County employee. If it is able to be occupied by anyone then it can be occupied by the Sheriff and his employees too. If Sheriff Staly or any of his employees refuse, I guess that’s an election or employment decision they have to make.
Staly doesn’t need to worry about reelection. The con-servatives love his cowboy hat wearing, Green Roof Inn jingoism. Had Manfre blown up the budget like Staly has and demanded a new Operations center the con-servatives would be up in arms over it all. Much like the deficit under Obama was the end of the world, but under Trump not a peep.
Why has there never been any discussion by the Commissioners, the administration or County Attorney of legal action against the contractors who performed lousy work and put the taxpayers in this position? At the very least try and recoup some money for either refurbishing the existing building or building the new one.
One thing that seems to be overlooked by this remediate and get back to work opinion is: the county now owns several reports saying the building has mold, if a county employee is forced to work in that building and contracts any illness that can be attributed to mold, the county is on the hook for a major civil suit. The argument would go something like, the county had outside firms confirm the presence of mold/toxins, the county attempted remediation, reoccupied knowing the building had issues and is responsible for the adverse health condition. And there goes the millions of dollars you think you’d save by remediate and reoccupy.
Mr G says
bulldozer – that’s all that’s needed – do the same to the building directly behind it also. eye sores is all they are. one got a facelift & we know how that worked out