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Mold-closed police station set to reopen ; Additional repairs caused the delay

A Hertel Avenue police station that was shut down nearly a year ago after mold was discovered will likely reopen by early February, officials said Thursday.

The Northwest District police station at 669 Hertel Ave., just west of Elmwood Avenue, was expected to reopen by late last summer. But city officials said they decided to make additional repairs and upgrades unrelated to the mold problem while the facility was shuttered.

Police officers have been working from temporary quarters in the former All Saints School on Esser Avenue.

North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr., who helped find the temporary site, said he doesn't think the relocation has impeded police services to his district.

"Some residents in the Hertel area haven't liked it," he said. "But many Riverside residents do."

Golombek said the temporary relocation to a building that is near Riverside Park has helped more officers become familiar with the neighborhood.

"I think more officers realize now that this is part of the city that's worth fighting for," Golombek said.

Crews have been working on several projects in the 17,000-square-foot structure on Hertel. One of the biggest jobs involved elevating the floor of the police station's basement to accommodate a larger sump pump, said Public Works Commissioner Steven J. Stepniak. The project should help to reduce moisture issues, he added.

Other improvements include moving walls and revising counters to make the police station more functional.

The mold removal mission was conducted by Indoor Air Professionals and was completed a few months ago, Stepniak said.

Last year, an officer in the Northwest District lodged a complaint that the building had mold growing in it.

Mayor Byron W. Brown ordered that the facility be closed temporarily. The city commissioned air tests, and officials said these tests found no hazardous levels of mold or asbestos in the building.

Earlier projections that the station would only be closed for about six months were overly optimistic, Golombek said, adding that he always thought the work would take longer to complete.

"I certainly hope there won't be any future problems in the building," he said.

The cost of the repairs and upgrades will approach about $700,000, Stepniak said.