Lead paint to be removed County moves to clean up new building

Saying “better safe than sorry,” county officials recently agreed to hire a professional contractor to cleanup patches of peeling paint at the newly reconstructed County Plaza building, patches which contain traces of lead.

“The work will be primarily on the sixth and seventh floors,” said Jim Kennelly, spokesperson for County Executive Tom DeGise.

Roger Quintana, president of the AFSCME Local 2306, raised the issue in June when he toured the new facility and noticed splotches of mold and peeling paint.

While independent testing showed the levels of lead below the federal cleanup standards, Quintana said some professionals consulted said there was still a risk to both workers and clients, and that previous tests done by the county showed lead content.

The county had proposed leaving the areas of paint rather than go through the expense of a full-blown cleanup. Some estimates had placed the cost at $1 million. But Kennelly said a more recent estimate said that the cost would likely be around $10,000.

“A full-blown assessment for lead was done on the building and the area of concern. The flaking paint in the old ceiling is being removed even though the test report didn’t show lead in that paint,” Kennelly said. “It was listed as negative for lead levels in the report. Nonetheless, it is being removed by a professional contractor, but not close to what was considered to be the original possible cost.”

Last month, County Administrator Abe Antun said the county has already conducted environmental investigations regarding asbestos, tested the paint for lead, and conducted air samplings.

The black spots, which Quintana thought to be mold, are – according to Antun – residue from piping of an old sprinkler system.

Bids for footbridge from UC to NB

Hudson County received eight proposals on July 29 for the design of a sorely needed footbridge across a busy part of Kennedy Boulevard. The bridge would connect shopping malls in Union City and North Bergen. The Union City mall has an International House of Pancakes in it, and the North Bergen mall is the Columbia Park Mall.

State Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack said he had requested a study more than three years ago when he was still a freeholder, and said the bridge was urgently needed because of high traffic and multiple lanes between the two malls.

“This is the busiest intersection next to Journal Square,” Stack said. “We need a bridge similar to the one that connects parts of St. Peter’s College in Jersey City.”

Antun said the proposals are being evaluated by this his office, the state Department of Transportation, and the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.

Should the price of the selected firm exceed the $400,000 in federal funding the county has received for this project, Antun said the price could be negotiated.

“If unsuccessful, we will do the same process with the second highest scorer,” he said. “This is a federal process. The contract for this design must be awarded on the Aug. 14 freeholder meeting. The construction funds are in place for 2009.”

“The work will be primarily on the sixth and seventh floors.” – Jim Kennelly


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