ANDERSON – Madison County will be vacating the downtown courthouse for up to seven months for the remediation of asbestos.
The Madison County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a lease agreement with Anderson University, 2705 Enterprise Drive, to lease space at the Flagship Enterprise Center and a memorandum of understanding to lease several floors of the First Savings Tower in downtown Anderson.
The lease agreement with Anderson University provides for a $30,192 monthly payment with the county providing security and housekeeping. AU will pay the utility costs.
County Attorney Jeff Graham said the lease agreement with AU runs from Nov. 27 through June 30 with a possible additional 30 days available.
The county will pay $10 per square foot for first-floor space in the First Savings Tower, 33 W. 10th St., and $12 per square foot for space on other floors.
The county is looking at leasing up to 30,000 square feet of space, which would cost an estimated $30,000 per month. That lease agreement runs from Nov. 20 to June 30.
“We looked at many options,” Commissioner Steffanie Owens said. “Our concern was about personal safety. Safety came first.
“It was difficult to find a place to fit everyone and continue for the work to be done,” she said. “This is not perfect, but was our best option.”
Owens said the county was considering having a representative from each county office on the first floor of First Savings Towers to answer questions from the public.
Early voting for the May 2018 primary could take place at the First Savings Tower ground floor.
The court system and clerk’s office will be housed at the Flagship Enterprise Center and the other county offices are expected to occupy several floors in the First Savings Tower.
The City of Anderson Transit System (CATS) operates weekdays from the downtown bus terminal to the Flagship Enterprise Center. Buses run hourly from 7 a.m. to noon and then from 1:10 to 6:10 p.m. Cost is $1 each way.
Terry Burnworth, of Pyramid Architecture & Engineering, said the courthouse will probably be closed to the public starting Nov. 27 and is scheduled to be reopened by June 30, 2018.
Commissioner Mike Phipps was assured that all employees will be out of the government center when the asbestos remediation work begins.
Burnworth said Micro Air tested an additional 215 air samples at the government center. He said the survey found no additional concerns in the building.
Bids for the moving and storage of county-owned property to the two locations will be received on Oct. 20, he said.
The asbestos in the building, constructed in 1973, was first discovered in October 2016 in a survey report, completed by HydroTech Environmental Consulting & Engineering, at the request of former property manager Denny Williamson.
That survey found the presence of asbestos on sprayed-on fireproofing material. The inspection determined the fireproofing material was considered to be friable, which can become airborne if disturbed.
The fireproofing material was sprayed on structural steel beams and columns throughout the building, located on ceilings and walls in various rooms and on plumbing pipes above the dropped ceiling tiles.
The total cost of the asbestos remediation and moving the offices from the courthouse is estimated at $2 million.
The remediation work includes asbestos removal, and new fireproofing, carpeting, lighting and paint in all county offices.
The asbestos remediation work is slated to start on Dec. 4 on the fourth floor of the Government Center, Burnworth said.