Sunday, November 4, 2001

Maui County

Maui County faces $1
million tab to clean up
building’s air quality

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU >> Maui County Council budget chairman Riki Hokama says he's confident there will be support for correcting air quality problems in a county building, despite a rise in the estimated cost to $1 million from $500,000.

"The council members feel that whatever is the cost to rehabilitate the building and get it in condition that provides confidence and safety for employees, that's what we ought to do -- and the sooner the better," Hokama said.

Maui County official Lance Taguchi said the estimated cost of the work at the Kalana Pukui Building in Wailuku began increasing as the Apana administration continued to receive reports about the extent of the problem earlier this year.

Apana has already obtained authorization from the Maui County Council to spend $500,000 and is seeking another $500,000 for the work in a $2.14-million supplemental budget.

The council is reviewing a number of requests in the supplemental budget.

Taguchi said if funding is approved, the bid for the project may be opened as early as Nov. 20 and county employees may be able to return to the building by late March or April.

The $1 million includes payment of rent and other costs of relocating employees, along with an estimated $680,000 in construction costs, he said.

The county has been spending about $21,000 a month in rents to pay for office space for employees working for the Planning Department and Land Use and Codes Administration.

Taguchi said the work at the two-story Kalana Pukui building will require the removal of tiles from the ceilings to eliminate mold, a new air-conditioning system, and the installation of ultraviolet light to kill bacteria entering the air ducts.

Some 80 planning and public works employees were evacuated from the building on Feb. 20, after several complained of eye irritation and one person had respiratory problems.

A colony of "stachybotrys sp." fungus was found on the surface of a water-stained ceiling tile near lockers in the electrical area of the building.

The fungus, which did not turn up in air samples, can be harmful, especially if inhaled by the elderly, the young or those with auto-immune problems, county spokeswoman Karlynn Kawahara said.

Maui County

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