In Lincoln, Maine, town officials are already on track to relocate their current office. But this good news comes with bad news about the town’s current building: dangerous amounts of mold have been found in the basement of the present office.
The administrators’ current office is in a three-story Masonic building that is over 100 years old. The building, Horeb Lodge No. 93, features office space ranted by the town for $2,566 per month.
Now Lincoln Town Council Chairman Steve Clay has said that the town has to find a way to determine if the building is safe.
At a town meeting at the end of August, Councilor Curt Ring said that workers discovered a large amount of dark-colored mold on the floor — enough to overgrow a baseball hat and cover small sections of the floor’s surface.
Ring passed around pictures to the meeting’s attendees, showing a ruler next to the mold. Ring stated that the mold in many of the pictures is “growing like grass up from the floor.”
Masonic President Mark Weatherbee and other members of the lodge attended the meeting and asked whether the substance found on the baseball hat was actually mold. Clay stated that the hat had not yet been tested.
However, Ring didn’t see what else the substance could be. Although no one had complained of illness so far, several in attendance said they could occasionally smell the mold.
“If it is something that is potentially dangerous, I am not comfortable having town workers working in [the building] until we have it tested,” Ring said.
Ring proposed a move to a temporary facility in the meantime if needed.
Weatherbee admitted that the lodge’s basement had been closed for several weeks and that it lacked significant airflow and had some standing water. A carpenter at the meeting suggested using a cement sealant in the basement to prevent the issue in the future.
This news may speed up the town’s office relocation plan from the Main Street Masonic building to their new office on Fleming Street, but some town residents, including Weatherbee, are unhappy about the pending move. Concerned citizens may start a petition drive to force a referendum vote concerning the office’s relocation, despite the council’s 5-to-1 vote allowing it.
The mold certainly presents a good sign that the office is overdue for a move.
“Sometimes office moves are triggered by company growth or sometimes it’s a crisis situation like an environmental condition which could lead to a mandatory relocation to sustain business operations,” says Barb Brooks of Precision Office Furniture Installation. “Periodically, immediate response for our services are required for emergency needs by customers.”
The town’s office relocation has been proposed since 2004, and deals for office moves fell through both in 2007 and in 2008, primarily due to cost concerns.