Luzerne County to test air quality at Penn Place building due to rumors of mold

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - | April 27th, 2016 7:30 pm

Luzerne County officials have ordered air quality tests at the county-owned Penn Place Building in response to unsubstantiated rumors of mold, acting county Manager C. David Pedri said Wednesday.

The county also is planning window repairs and carpet cleaning at the building, which is located at the corner of Market Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Wilkes-Barre, he said.

The results of the air quality tests will be publicly released, he said.

“We have nothing to hide. I would never send people to work in a building that’s unsafe,” Pedri said.

Pedri said he assigned the matter to county Administrative Services Division Head David Parsnik earlier this week after receiving repeated inquiries from a television reporter and learning of “rampant rumors.”

“There is no confirmation of any illnesses or diseases related to mold coming out of that building,” Pedri said. “If there was, we would clear the building, fix it and take the necessary steps to make sure it’s a safe place to work.”

Pedri also said he believes a government regulatory agency must inform a building owner if an illness has been linked to a “sick building,” and the county had received no such notification as of Wednesday afternoon.

The building houses some court staff, including probation services, and numerous other county departments, including the controller’s, election, planning/zoning, drug and alcohol, purchasing, public defender’s, human resources and coroner’s offices.

Parsnik could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday night. He does not oversee building and grounds, but the operational services division head position has been vacant since Tanis Manseau resigned in October.

Prior county commissioners purchased Penn Place for $2.48 million in 1999 from Mericle Development Corporation and invested millions of dollars on repairs and furnishings to convert the structure into county offices and courtrooms.

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.