City deals with mold issue in Chinook Pier

After an investigation, Grand Haven hired a mold inspector to walk through the buildings at the city-owned Chinook Pier. Mold spores, which are not harmful to people, were found in areas such as mechanical rooms.

Concerns from one tenant at the city-owned Chinook Pier led to a larger investigation which has uncovered spores of mold in some areas of the commercial buildings.

While the immediate price tag to clear the mold will be more than $25,000, City Council members said during their Sept. 3 meeting that there will be additional costs.

Ashley Latsch, assistant to the city manager, said the mold is not harmful to shop owners, employees or patrons.

“The inspector verified with us this is not a type of spore that is harmful to people,” she said. “The average healthy person should not be impacted by this. However, we hope to act quickly because our tenants are in there on a daily basis.”

Initially, a single tenant brought the issue to city employees’ attention. Latsch said that, upon investigation, she heard more concerns from other tenants about possible mold in their buildings.

A mold inspector was then hired to do a walk-through of the Chinook Pier buildings.

“They found this to be a more widespread issue,” Latsch said, “with those issues stemming from the severely increased water levels that we’ve had with pretty significant standing water in the crawl spaces at Chinook Pier this year. That certainly wasn’t helped with the humidity levels.”

The Chinook Pier buildings experienced up to 6 inches of water in the crawl spaces. Small pumps were used to remove the water, but the damage had already been done.

Latsch said ServPro, a mold remediation company, used a tool to determine where mold could be in the buildings based on the device detecting damp drywall in areas such as mechanical rooms.

“ServPro is going to block off these areas, remove the drywall and go through the process of removing spores, if they find any,” she said, noting work is scheduled with the shop owners in mind so as not to hinder their business.

After ServPro finishes their work, an inspector will visit the site again to make sure the mold is gone. Contractors will then be needed to fix the drywall, Latsch said.

“I’ve had to deal with this on occasion. I know it can be pretty intrusive,” said Councilman Bob Monetza, noting by the time work is completed it could cost much more than the $25,753 approved to hire ServPro to remove the mold. “I just want us to be aware, this isn’t the end of the story. This may get rid of the mold, but you’re left with a building full of compromised walls and problems that need to be fixed. I guess my biggest concern is that we talked about the standing water that was in the crawl spaces.”

Dan Vivian, facilities manager for the city, said there has not been an issue with water in the crawl spaces before now, and he is looking at solutions to ensure a similar situation won’t happen.

“We are solving the problem that exists now,” Monetza advised. “If we don’t properly get to the root of it and solve that, then we’re going to be doing this again.”

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