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Hertel Avenue police station reopens after mold cleanup and renovation

DdistrictBuffalo Police D District station reopens at noon after being closed for renovation and mold cleanup. (Derek Gee / Buffalo News)

BUFFALO -- Police officers moved back into a Hertel Avenue station today after a $750,000 renovation that cleaned up mold and updated the building.

The Northwest District station at 669 Hertel Ave. reopened to the public at noon.

The police station was shut down a year ago after an officer filed a complaint that the building had mold growing in it.

"We certainly did not want anyone to be working in a facility where they had any concern about their health and safety in that building," Mayor Byron W. Brown said during a brief ceremony to reopen the building this morning.

Since closing, officials said, the building underwent an environmental remediation to remove mold and to address moisture in the basement.

Contractors also raised the basement floor and added a new pumping system to help address wet conditions in the building caused by water flow underneath it. 

Public Works Commissioner Steven J. Stepniak said tests done by an environmental contractor, as well as the city's police union, showed that black mold found in the building did not affect its air quality.

"At no time did we find any mold spores that were airborne," Stepniak said.

Additional renovation work was done while the building was closed, including replacing flooring and rugs, painting walls and refurbishing the lunch room. Computer systems and phone lines were also upgraded.

Brown said he hopes to hire a consultant to complete an assessment of all city buildings, including police stations and fire houses, during the next year to determine if there are problems that need to be addressed. Money for that effort, he said, is in his proposed capital budget.

"It's something that we tried to do last year," Brown said. "That part of the budget was not passed last year."

Officers stationed in the Northwest District have been working out of a temporary station in the former All Saints School on Esser Avenue while the Hertel Avenue station was closed.

D District Chief Anthony Barba thanked officers for working out of a "makeshift building" for a year.

"All Saints did a great job for us, but it's not a police building," Barba said. "We worked off portable phones and we worked off of laptops. It was quite daunting sometimes, but they didn't complain."

See inside the upgraded building in this video:

--Denise Jewell Gee

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