State details mold issues with Dover corporate center


DOVER — The State of Delaware paid $3,184 for mold testing in leased Child Support Services office space last year and officials said this week that moving costs are expected to total approximately $40,000.

Pettinaro Management LLC agreed to terminate a lease after a June 8 discussion with Division of Facilities Management Director Mike Svaby regarding issues within the 6,669 square foot Delaware Department of Health and Social Services office in the Blue Hen Corporate Center at 655 S. Bay Road in Dover, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

“DHSS paid for the Harvard Environmental, Inc. study and I believe wanted their own assessment of conditions,” OMB spokesman Bert Scoglietti said. “As with any lease termination the vacating tenant is responsible for the costs of relocating to new space.”

There was $910,000 left on the now-terminated lease in effect from January 2015 to December 2025, according to the OMB.

The state said suspected mold was last observed late in the summer of 2017, and observed on backs of certain chairs, bookcases, under keyboards. Quality air testing was conducted by Bear-based Harvard Environmental on Oct. 23, 2017.

In its conclusion released Nov. 2, 2017, Harvard “concludes that highly elevated airborne mold spores were found in office CS125, moderate levels were found in CS114N Common Area, offices CS109, CS110 and CS113, and low levels were found in CS115, CS124, CS126, and common area security.

“Also, the unaffected area air spore counts found in the mall entrance for the employees showed moderate to high levels.

“It is or our opinion that the elevated spore counts found in the mall affected the results of the leased space as this entrance is only used by the employees and the doors are opened frequently.”

Harvard Environmental recommended “to mitigate the problematic air quality found in some of the areas showing the moderate to high spore counts by use of HEPA air filtration devices.

These devices should be operating during and following normal business hours for a period of at least two to three business days.

“If possible, the exhausted air should be directed outside of the working spaces. Harvard also recommends additional spore trap testing following the period of air filtration to ensure that no elevated airborne mold spore counts are present.”

This week, Mr. Scoglietti referenced an earlier response that “Pettinaro was responsible for maintaining the property including addressing environmental issues. They did implement measures to address the observed environmental issues but were not able to completely eliminate them.”

According to Mr. Scoglietti last month, Pettinaro “implemented recommended measures to eliminate any potential mold” by installing four dehumidifiers in September 2017 and having the entire suite was cleaned by Service Masters.

The HVAC system was ”rebalanced” in December, Mr. Scoglietti said and “New HVAC units with dehumidification are on order.”

Despite the company’s response, Mr. Scoglietti said in June, the “Facilities Management believes those measures have not completely addressed the situation.”

Asked for comment last month, Pettinaro Chief Executive Officer Gregory Pettinaro said, “In general, employees and visitors were not at risk for health conditions resulting from mold exposure. Division of Public Health environmental assessors observed high humidity, which could contribute to mold growth and a small amounts of mold was found on a chair last fall.

“ … Since there is a potential problem we are letting the State out of the lease …”

The State considers “Location, size, availability, price, parking, accessibility to public transit,” as key factors in choosing a new site for the office, the OMB said.

Earlier, the OMB said the current annual rent for the affected Child Support Services Enforcement office is $113,455.32, which is $16.28 per square foot.

The state currently leases 25,367 square feet overall at the Blue Hen Corporate Center, and the unaffected office space will remain in place.

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