But does this settlement mean the issue is closed? The terms of the settlement state that the county retains ownership of the building and its land, and in addition collects $900,000 from the builders. The taxpayers still own that vacant, moldy building. And the question remains of how or if to fix it. If the moisture problem is fixed and the mold remediated, what staff would fill it?
Those could be some very sensitive issues.
Of course, much rides on how far $900,000 can go. Is it enough to cover the legal fees and environmental and engineering studies that were incurred in service of the building? Estimates previously were $350,000 to remediate the mold damage in the building and to prevent it from happening again.
We understand the logic behind accepting a settlement, partial payment is better than none.
County leaders turned over money to the builders that was put in escrow until the building’s condition was acceptable at the point of sale. No matter the punch lists that remained or staff that had detailed the problems at the time that money changed hands, it is hard to get around what that payment says about the work being done. That detail, and surely more, have led county leaders to believe that the bird in hand is the one to catch, and to leave the two in the bush alone. We understand, but the hard decisions about that building won’t end here—because it is still our building.
If the building is to be used or sold, it must be fixed and fixed right. We have all had enough of seeing that brick mistake reminding us of the blame-laying as we drive into and out of town. Let’s make it right, very right, or sell it and be done with it.