PLANO — "Closed for mold." That's the message at a Plano office building that houses several Collin County agencies.
Work is underway to clean out dangerous black mold, but at least one private tenant said they were never told about the potential health hazard.
Collin County bought the building at 900 East Park Boulevard in the late 1980s. Six weeks ago, water leaks in the 28-year-old structure led to the discovery of mold.
A private counseling firm, a community dental program, and the county's veteran services office had to move.
The mold at My Children's pediatric clinic forced a temporary closure. As a result, more than 1,000 patients were referred to other Children's clinics.
"It's been quite a headache for everybody concerned," said Bill Burke, the County’s construction manager.
Only 15 percent of the building was affected by the mold. Most county offices were not impacted, including the passport office, health care services, the substance abuse program, and juvenile probation.
But that doesn't limit the concern — especially when a cleaning company showed up in protective suits.
One tenant who recently moved out is upset. "The county never told us about mold," said the tenant.
A county employee echoed those sentiments. "We would all like to know what is going on here, and if we're really safe."
County officials said they talked with department heads and most of the building's tenants about the problem.
"In some of the non-affected areas, maybe we haven't been as diligent keeping up with those people," Burke said. "But those areas didn't have a problem and maintained their operation as normal."
The county hired a consultant to oversee the mold removal and conduct air testing of the entire building. Those tests showed no presence of mold, and the building was declared safe.
But the work of mold abatement is far from complete.
"It included the removal of all the fungal contaminated building materials," said Jacob Colson of SRP Environmental. "In addition to that, there was some insulation that was removed."
So far, the county has spent $200,000 for the cleanup and consultant. It could take months to finish the work.
And county officials expect the final cost to soar to a half-million dollars.