By James Niedzinski
---- — ESSEX — Following up on initial safety concerns, town officials have discovered asbestos in the town’s fire and police station.
Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki said that safety committee members were curious to see if the building did have any asbestos, considering it was built in the 1950s, and the town applied for a grant from the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association, the town’s insurance company.
The grant was approved, the town was allotted about $5,000, and the survey was done by Covino Environmental Associates Inc., of Woburn.
Two tests have been done so far. The company sent officials to gather initial results at the end of November, with a second visit about two weeks ago, Zubricki said.
He said he does not expect any asbestos to be removed, based on initial conversations with officials from the environmental company.
“Very minor things may just need to be done,” he said. “It’s my full expectation nothing needs to be removed.”
Areas of the building affected by asbestos are not places people frequent, he said, adding that a few pipes may just need to be sealed up. But the asbestos situation remains one of many problems with the building.
Lisa O’Donnell, member of the Board of Selectmen as well as the chairperson of the Building Committee, acknowledged that the police and fire station have been in poor shape for quite some time.
“The building has a lot of problems,” she said, “the main one being it’s simply too small.”
She said asbestos removal is a minimal problem in the building, but a new public safety center would be more beneficial to residents, as well as cheaper, instead of making numerous repairs to the current building.
A new public safety building was recommended by Reinhardt and Associates, an Agawam based consulting firm. The company carried out a feasibility study in September 2011, and had recommended that the town develop such a complex on town-owned land off John Wise Avenue.
Some problems outlined by Reinhardt include ventilation systems, air quality and cracks in the floor and walls.
Town officials have addressed one major safety aspect, the fire station’s leaking roof. Selectmen signed off on a $13,000 contract with Christopher Nunes Construction of Essex last week. The contract was signed outside of a regular meeting, in order to complete the project before heavy rainfall or snow is expected to start.
Zubricki said Nunes offered the lowest of the three bids, the others being $13,500 and $19,344. The bids were submitted on Dec. 12. Zubricki said at an earlier Board of Selectmen meeting, construction is set to start when weather permits.
According to the scope of work statement posted on the town’s website, the work is set to be completed by Dec. 28.
In the meantime, Zubricki said he expects an update on the asbestos condition by early January.
He added the Board of Selectmen are presently considering adding this topic to the 2014 budget discussion. Requests are due by Jan. 10 and the Selectmen will finalize their submission on Jan. 7 of 2013.
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.