LHPD office closed after high levels of mold found

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An inspection of the sub-floor at the police department revealed dangerous levels of black mold. (Courtesy Photo)

An inspection of the sub-floor at the police department revealed dangerous levels of black mold. (Courtesy Photo)

By SHELLY WILKISON

The Liberty Hill Police Department building on SH 29 is closed to officers and the public as the City Building Inspector discovered dangerous levels of mold under the floor.

Police Chief Randy Williams said the discovery was made when he reported that the restroom floor was in need of replacement — the second time in recent months.

“When they came and pulled it out (the flooring), it was really nasty,” Williams said, adding that the underside of the floor was damp and covered in mold.

The City’s newly-hired building inspector found extensive black and yellow mold under the restroom floor and the adjacent break room floor, then discovered wet carpet in an office on the east side of the building.

“The first thought was that it was a leaking toilet, but that turned out not to be the case,” he said, adding the toilet was removed.

Williams said mold has been present in the building for years, and some officers have suffered from symptoms of exposure.

He said one officer is so allergic that he isn’t able to come into the building without a protective mask.

Williams added that K-9 officer Roady has been experiencing seizures in recent months, but he can’t be sure whether the cause for the seizures is exposure to the mold.

He said by the time floors are replaced and the building is fumigated, it could be a significant cost to the city. Fumigating alone could cost upwards of $10,000.

“It’s a rotting building,” he said, questioning whether investing in repairs would be prudent.

In the meantime, Williams said the police department “is homeless and we’re shopping for a new home.”

Officers are spending their shifts in their patrol vehicles, and using the Municipal Court, 2801 RR 1869, as a temporary office.

In November 2014, City Manager Greg Boatright reported to the City Council that testing for mold had been done inside the police department office.

“There were no levels of any danger, but there is still a musty smell,” Boatright said at that time, adding that tests showed 65 percent humidity in the building — a range that should have been between 30-60 percent.

Boatright said then that vents and air ducts would be cleaned and water-damaged flooring replaced.

“The problem is manageable,” he said.

Williams said Monday that while the actions taken in 2014 provided some relief, some officers continued to experience health problems.

A quick look at the outside of the building this week showed gaping space between the structure and the rock landscaping on the east side. Williams said he believes with every rainfall, water runs underneath the building and has no place to drain.

The portable structure housing the police department was used by Prosperity Bank before it built its current building years ago. Williams said ownership of the building and the land was conveyed to the City.

Williams said despite the shuttering of the police department office on SH 29, officers are working normal schedules and are available to residents.

However, instead of calling police on local department lines, Williams said officers can be reached by calling Williamson County Communications, (512) 864-8282 ext.1. If the call is an emergency, call 911.

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