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Date of Issue: June 07, 2007

Anna Maria City Hall to re-open June 11

Like snowbirds preparing to return to their primary residence, Anna Maria city workers are packing to head north.

But they will only be traveling 10 blocks.

After a season in temporary headquarters at Crosspointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, the city crew is readying to re-open Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.

The planned re-opening date is June 11.

The main moving day is June 8.

"Some services may be interrupted," said Mayor Fran Barford, referring to phone services and other technical systems. "But I'm hopeful we'll keep it to a minimum."

"If people could bear with us and have patience," said AnnMarie Thorpe, city administrative assistant.

City hall has been closed for months while workers repaired the building after removing mold identified shortly before the November election of Barford and two city commissioners.

City officials blame the cause of the mold on water that entered the building when Roof USA was installing a new roof in the summer of 2006. Thousands of gallons of rainwater coursed through the roof into city hall, causing serious damage inside the building.

"It was really bad," said Thorpe, who walked through city hall June 1, pointing out offices that had needed repair.

An environmental report commissioned last year by then-Mayor SueLynn found "significant mold contamination" in the trusses above the ceiling tiles in the commission chambers, in the air in the locker room and in the west wall of the building.

That report did not indicate the mold posed a serious health issue, but eventually city hall was vacated for the remediation work.

"It began to affect the health of our staff," Barford said. "And when that happens, you can't stay."
Since January, city meetings have taken place primarily at Holmes Beach City Hall and city employees have conducted day-to-day work at Crosspointe Fellowship, formerly the Island Baptist Church.

"They've been wonderful," Barford said, referring to Crosspointe Fellowship's assistance. "They've been so gracious. We just owe them so much."
 But, Barford added, there's no place like home.

"We're in a fish bowl right now," she said of the consolidated, temporary space at the church. "We're all on top of each other."

A timeline distributed to city commissioners detailed the relocation of the city government and the associated expenses, beginning in August 2006, when the rainstorm sent a deluge of water into the building, drenching the Manatee County Sheriff's Office substation, the mayor's office and the administrative offices.

The next day, with work taking place on the roof, a water pipe burst in the administrative office.

"This took a hit," Thorpe said, referring to the commission chambers, where she stood beside a ladder amid tools and construction material.

She walked from the chambers through a conference room and into the administrative hallway and offices.

"Water was pouring in here," she said, pointing to a gap in the ceiling tiles. "And my office was flooded. We had water coming in here. Everything was soaked."

Fans were brought in to take out the moisture.

But in November 2006, city officials received an environmental report showing mold in the building and, by mid-January, the temporary city hall was set up at

Crosspointe Fellowship. City documents were packed up in boxes. Furniture was placed in storage.

Over the next several months, asbestos and mold were abated from city hall, the cooling and heating system was cleaned and repairs throughout the building were undertaken.

Last week, workers with the Garry Group continued repairs, expecting to finish up before employees returned June 8.

"We're doing little odds and ends," said Terry Murphy of the Garry Group. "We're putting it all back together. There's been a lot of little things to do."

"We're ready to come back and have our own space," Thorpe said, standing in her empty city hall office.

The estimated cost to repair city hall, excluding legal fees, is more than $100,000, which city officials hope Roof USA will cover.

"We had to use our city funds to move forward with this project," Barford said.

For more information about the status of city hall, call 941-708-6130.

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