Shortly after a Johnstown City Council special meeting was cancelled due to lack of a quorum on Monday, members Charlene Stanton and Jack Williams toured the fifth floor of the Public Safety Building, pointing out obvious water damage, apparent mold and blue kiddie pools used to collect rain water during heavy storms.
Stanton and Williams called the meeting after the city received a report, put together by Mountain Research in Altoona, that provided details about the presence of mold and bacteria in the basement, although no black mold was detected.
No other council members attended.
“We had hoped tonight that council would show up, and we could have the whole building inspected,” Williams said. “And, at the same time, closed temporarily to ensure – at least limit – any exposure that city employees – police, fire, redevelopment authority – and the general public coming into this building might be exposed to. I think it’s a real shame they didn’t show up tonight. But that’s their prerogative.”
Two council members missed another special meeting, concerning the 2019 budget and the city’s Act 47 exit plan, last week due to medical issues.
Deputy Mayor Marie Mock said she could not attend due to a previous commitment.
“In the future, it would be professional if those calling for a meeting to contact other members for availability,” Mock wrote in an email.
Williams and Stanton scheduled the meeting for the purposes of 1) directing City Manager George Hayfield to put out a request for proposals for testing and monitoring of all floors, concerning – but not limited to – mold, air quality, electrical, flooding, water infiltration and 2) directing him to close and restrict access to the building that houses the Johnstown Fire Department, Johnstown Police Department, Johnstown Redevelopment Authority and Anthony C. Truscello Council Chambers.
“I think there’s mold throughout the whole building,” Stanton said. “And when you have the air conditioning and heat systems working, that’s blowing mold all throughout the entire building. I believe that people’s health that enter this building would be jeopardized.”
They now plan to introduce the proposal as a resolution at council’s regular monthly meeting on Nov. 14.
“Along with resubmitting the same resolution for the next council meeting, after seeing the conditions of the fifth floor, Councilman Williams and I will be filing a complaint with the Department of Labor & Industry,” Stanton said.
Fraternal Order of Police Flood City Lodge 86 President Dan Zakraysek and a representative from Mountain Research were present for the meeting that did not occur.
“We have some concerns about the health and welfare of our membership,” Zakraysek said. “I just got a copy of the report. I haven’t had a chance to read over it yet. But we want to see exactly what’s going on or what precautions are going to be taken to prevent any health situations for our members now or in the future.”
Hayfield had already taken steps to address standing water in the basement, including using sump pumps and dehumidifiers.
“Regarding the mold situation, the CM (city manager) seems to be on it already, and not exactly sure why he needs council to proceed,” Mock wrote.
“Councilpersons Williams and Stanton want to shut down the PSB, moving everyone out, and fix everything from top to bottom … roof, electrical, ventilation, etc. in addition to the mold. Where are the funds going to come from to make the building perfect? If they want to raise taxes to do this, let them propose that. I do agree that the safety of those that occupy the building need addressed, but going to their extreme is not feasible. Let’s let the CM do what he’s already started without council interference and take it a step at a time.”