Officials want decrepit buildings on Barret closed, but must fin - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Officials want decrepit buildings on Barret closed, but must find new places to move everyone

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Problems plaguing two Louisville government buildings are so severe that officials are ordering everyone to leave.

810 and 850 Barret are two old city buildings and a notification letter says they have exceeded their useful life. It says they lack "adequate square footage, cooling facilities, ventilation, and operating and lab capacities."

But these buildings have had issues with mold in the past. WDRB asked city officials if that was the real reason behind the move. The Director of Facilities and Fleet Management, Cathy Duncan, is the person who sent the letter and she told WDRB in a phone interview as far as she knows the mold issue has been addressed.

A few workers did not want to talk on camera, but say mold still is an issue in the Urban Government building. One person said it is everywhere and easy to find.

On the seventh floor, a hallway is condemned and closed off and we found mold. Ceiling tiles stained with black muck, air vents are speckled black and the only thing cordoning it off was a door.

Attorney George Cochran represents a handful of people who once worked in these buildings and says some became ill after being exposed to the mold.

"Countless number of workers on the police force have been exposed to this for whatever amount of months," Cochran said in a phone interview. "Some people have symptoms, some people don't. we feel that they should be compensated for that. Even if they give up and switch everyone to new buildings. that's better than continuing to expose them."

The letter, sent in June, aimed to start moving the majority of departments out by October and to have the buildings completely vacant before the end of the year.

City officials say that is not going to happen, because they would first have to find places to move everyone. 

The buildings house the medical examiner's office, some LMPD detectives, the Jefferson County Cooperative Extension, a County Clerk's office, and Air Pollution Control among other organizations.

Deputy Coroner Barbara Weakley-Jones says she loves where she is, she just doesn't care for the environmental issues. She says she would be happy to stay if the city would fix it up. But the city says it would cost $17-$20 million to renovate the two buildings and it would be cheaper to relocate everyone, either finding places to lease or shifting things around in other city buildings.

Louisville now hopes to start moving departments out by the end of the year.

Sources tell WDRB the Medical Examiner's Office may move to Central State Hospital in eastern Jefferson County, but officials with the Medical Examiner's office do not see the department moving by the end of the year.

It is not clear what will happen to the two buildings although a source tells WDRB they will be closed and condemned once they're cleared out.

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