County authorizes mold remediation at nutrition kitchen

ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County lawmakers tentatively approved a pair of measures on Monday to propel remediation on the senior meal nutrition kitchen forward.

The Department of Public Works Committee authorized up to $25,000 for the purchase of a new cooler, and up to $20,000 to remediate mold issues. 

Remediation is expected to take about a week, said Dan Palmer, the county manager. 

A state Department of Health inspection last spring revealed code and ventilation issues at the current site on Court Street in Elizabethtown. 

County officials have determined the construction of a new building would be the most cost-effective solution compared to a full remediation, which was projected to cost $500,000.

Initial costs for a new structure are pegged at $1.3 million. So far, the county has accrued about $500,000 in state grants. An additional $500,000 has been peeled from their forestry account. 

The county said the mold removal is necessary regardless of the building’s future, whether it used for storage or torn down at a later date. 

“It’s always going to be there, and an issue that needs to be addressed at some point,” Palmer said.

The coolers will be used while the county mitigates the mold issue, and will be stored outside. 

With fees from $2,500 to $3,000 per month, renting a cooler is also cost-prohibitive, Palmer said.

“It seems like a crazy amount of money to spend.”

Lawmakers previously authorized going out to bid for specs for a new building, but scrapped the submitted proposals last month. 

Deputy County Manager Mike Mascarenas said the county will reopen the process.

“We are going to go out to bid again,” Mascarenas said on Monday.

A new building would be constructed on either the current site or the county-owned fairgrounds in Westport, Palmer said.

The kitchen prepares 1,400 mails daily, which are sent to the county’s 14 meal nutrition sites.


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