Polk to pay for Phase I Jervey-Palmer study

Published 6:08 pm Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tryon concerned about asbestos, lead, oil storage
Polk County has decided to pay for a phase I study on the Jervey-Palmer building that the county is trying to give to the Town of Tryon.
Commissioners met Monday, Aug. 20 and approved paying for the study, which was tabled earlier this month after concerns were raised that the study would only tell the town what the county already knows about the building.
Commissioner vice-chair Renée McDermott, who raised the concerns, and county manager Ryan Whitson met with Tryon officials to discuss the study.
After that meeting, Interim Tryon Town Manager Joey Davis sent a letter to the county that said the town is concerned that asbestos and lead paint exist and also wants to know the location and condition of an oil storage tank and any leaks that may exist.
“We all seem to agree that our assumptions are the same that asbestos and lead paint exist inside the structure,” Davis said. “The town wishes to know the location and condition of the oil storage tank or any other fuel storage tanks that may exist. We are concerned if evidence of any leaks exists or how much fuel may still be contained. The town also wishes to know, to the fullest extent possible, what other contaminants may have been dumped or discharged in and around the property during its use as a hospital.”
During the county’s Aug. 6 meeting, commissioners tabled paying for the study after McDermott said normally the buying agent, in this case Tryon, pays for such studies. She also said the county manager and/or maintenance department already know the questions to be answered on the study.
The county’s quote for the study from Altamont Engineering is $2,400.
Commissioners have said the Jervey-Palmer building needs to get back on the tax rolls, with some saying the cost for a study is minimal in order for the county to dispose of the property. Commissioners unanimously agreed Monday to pay for the study after reviewing a response from Altamont regarding how a phase I study will answer Tryon’s questions.
Stuart Ryman of Altamont said considering the age of the structure it is likely asbestos and lead-based paint exist in the building. Ryman said materials testing can be done to document the amount, but such testing is outside the scope of a phase I study, although it could be included as part of a phase II study.
Concerning the oil storage tank, Ryman said the phase I study will identify the location of all tanks. To determine if any leaks are present, Ryman said phase I will document any evidence of a release but further inspections can be included in a phase II study.
Ryman also said until the phase I study is complete, Altamont could not give an estimate on how much a phase II study would cost, but generally phase II costs are between $5,000 and $15,000, depending on what issues are found in the phase I study.
“I think we should go ahead (with the study) to get this back to someone who can use it,” said commissioner Tom Pack. “If we keep (the building) we’ll have to do a phase I (study).”
Pack also said the phase I study will determine whether any issues need to be addressed and commissioners can decide later on doing a phase II study.
McDermott said she agrees with Pack that if Altamont says the county needs to go ahead with a phase I study the county should go forward while Altamont has given the county pricing.
After vacating the building last year, Polk County offered to give the Jervey-Palmer building to Tryon, which is located on Carolina Drive in Tryon town limits. The building was most recently used as the county department of social services (DSS) building, as well as other county offices since the 1970s. The building originally housed St. Luke’s Hospital. The property includes 4.92 acres and the 17,777-square-foot building.

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