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4-17-13


RADON GAS DETECTED
Air quality, structural issues
force police out
City looking for ‘temporary’ home for department

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

A search for a new home--at least a temporary one--for the Platte City Police Department is underway.

The city is looking for a location to relocate its police department after a combination of problems ranging from structural issues to potentially cancer-causing gas hit the department’s current home inside the Civic Center Building at 900 4th Street.

D.J. Gehrt, city administrator, says the search for a temporary police headquarters has led the city to look at four options: the former Witt and Hicklin building at 4th and Marshall; the former SKE Engineering building across from City Hall; the Olin Miller building on Main; and the former tobacco shop along Hwy. 92 near Second Street.

Gehrt said the city prefers a location in or near downtown with at least 2,000 sq. ft. of space. He said the city public safety subcommittee will hold a special meeting on Monday to look at options and make a recommendation to the full board of aldermen.

It is anticipated aldermen will take action on approving a lease at its meeting next Tuesday, April 23.

Late Friday, the city announced that the police department headquarters has structural failure of building floor supports. In addition, radon levels in one of the office spaces is higher than the standard. And low levels of airborne mold has also been discovered in the air quality testing inside the police department.

“The elevated radon level was found during air quality testing conducted as part of a floor replacement project,” said D.J. Gehrt, city administrator.

Radon is a known cancer-causing gas. It is a naturally-occurring gas that is formed from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water, according to information on the Environmental Protection Agency website.

Radon is odorless, tasteless and invisible. It enters buildings primarily through cracks, holes, leaks and breaks in basement walls and flooring, according to the EPA website.

Flooring in the squad bay at police headquarters was removed on March 13 as the first step in replacing failed structural components holding up the floor. Air quality testing was conducted as a part of the initial construction process, Gehrt said.

“When we received the test results on Tuesday of last week, it was evident that we would likely need to relocate in the near future,” Gehrt said.

He explained the city immediately began looking for suitable temporary locations for the department.

“We also began bringing in professional environmental quality consultants to help plan the next two steps in remed1iation, past employee notification and mitigation measures,” Gehrt remarked.

Current employees were notified of the air quality situation last Thursday morning and were given the opportunity to adjust their work schedules until the city is able to move out of the police office space.

The air quality testing in the police department showed low levels of airborne mold. There is no indication of mold or radon issues in the west wing of the Civic Center (gym, cafeteria, and parks department office), the city announced Friday. However, additional testing will be conducted in the municipal courtroom and in the west wing to confirm the continued use of those areas.

Gehrt this week told The Landmark that the west wing of the Civic Center building at this time is still in use.

“The consultants will conduct follow-up testing in those areas to confirm that there are not any issues,” Gehrt said.

The municipal courtroom did not have any direct testing last week, he said.

“We are not using the courtroom until after the tests,” Gehrt explained.

It is hoped the second round of tests will be concluded this week with the results coming next week, but no firm date had been established as of Tuesday, according to Gehrt.