Concern over asbestos forces county workers from building
A downtown Glenwood Springs building that Garfield County acquired two years ago had to be vacated by county workers last month due to asbestos concerns, county government officials have confirmed.
According to Renelle Lott, chief communications officer for the county, the one-story building at 810 Pitkin Ave. was closed Sept. 13 after initial tests came back from the lab showing the presence of the cancer-causing substance.
No one has been back in the building since, she said.
Four employees in her own department, including herself, and four employees in the county’s procurement department were moved out of the building and were relocated to other quarters in the next-door county administration building and at facilities in Rifle, she said.
It’s unknown at this time if the asbestos that was discovered was disturbed, or if any of the workers were exposed during the past two years after those two departments moved into the building.
“The county is researching that,” according to a statement issued by the county on Monday. “In the meantime, the county has taken and will continue to take all steps possible to protect its employees, including closing the building.”
The building was acquired by the county in August 2013 as part of a deal with Valley View Hospital that involved a land trade.
In that deal, the hospital acquired previously county-owned land beneath the hospital building, while the county obtained the office building just east of the county administration building at 110 Eighth St. that had been owned by the hospital.
The deal also included an $865,000 payment from Valley View to the county. The county in turn used that money to buy the 4,608-square-foot building at 810 Pitkin.
Several modifications were made to the building before county offices moved in, according to the statement.
Those included replacement of carpet and rubber base, painting, replacement of a water heater, removal of a lift station, replacement of lights and the addition of drywall and IT connections.
Two bathrooms were also combined into a single ADA-compliant bathroom, a basement-level bathroom was removed, and one of the rooms was remodeled for an employee break room.
Later work included roof repairs, the addition of an exterior back-up generator and radon mitigation, the county said.
Lott said the county is in the process of hiring a consulting firm to assess the extent of asbestos contamination, recommend whether additional testing is needed and determine an appropriate abatement plan and cost estimates to do the work.
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